‘Rain lays the dust’ at Southern Field Days

What a difference a day makes.

Sunshine for the first day of Southern Field Days at Waimumu, near Gore, was replaced with overcast, wet skies for day two yesterday, but that failed to deter the crowds filing through the gates.

T-shirts and jandals were replaced with gumboots and umbrellas but, as the site’s caretaker Jack Cooper philosophically said, "rain lays the dust", and got people into the trade tents.

The economic benefits the event had brought to the Gore area over the years had been "unreal", and it was great to have it back after Covid-19 scuppered the last planned event, Mr Cooper said.

St Peter’s College pupils (from left) Austyn Turnbull, Ella King and Samantha Marsh, all 17,...
St Peter’s College pupils (from left) Austyn Turnbull, Ella King and Samantha Marsh, all 17, provide a splash of colour on a dreary day at Southern Field Days yesterday. PHOTO: SALLY RAE
Hot coffee was more the refreshment of the day, rather than ice creams, while the aroma of lamb wafted around the site as National Lamb Day was celebrated, marking the anniversary of the day the ship Dunedin left Port Chalmers for London in 1882 carrying the first frozen shipment of meat from New Zealand to England.

Given the state of the rural sector, it was obvious that spending was not a high priority, particularly for big-ticket items, but those attending were enjoying a day out.

Dairy farmer, former Federated Farmers national president and now Associate Minister of Agriculture Andrew Hoggard said it was important to attend events like the field days, to hear from grassroots level, rather than just "sitting in Wellington".

Mr Hoggard, who was elected an Act MP last year, said it was a definite change from his previous role. While used to being in the public eye and being aware of what the issues in the rural sector were, the real change was "now the buck stops with us", he said.

"It’s a lot more pressure now than just stating a view," he said.

There was little time to be hands-on dairy farming on his Manawatu property, although he was scheduled to arrive home at lunchtime today and would be in the shed pregnancy-testing cows this afternoon. On weekends, he tended to have a look around the farm and also sort the weekly plan for staff.