Ag Fest almost sold out

Photo: Greymouth Star
Photo: Greymouth Star
Farmlands West Coast Ag Fest is 95% sold out, with over 400 exhibitors now expected to make it the biggest since the rural festival began a decade ago.

As of yesteday, Ag Fest co-owners Andy Thompson and Adam Berry said it would also be the biggest event of its type ever staged in Greymouth, with a full complement of exhibitors - including some multiple exhibitors booked over individual sites - at the Greymouth aerodrome events arena.

"This will be the biggest event Greymouth has ever seen. This is going to be huge," Mr Thompson said.

The last Ag Fest in 2018 drew a big crowd over two days.

Just last week the organisers were anticipating "well over 300" but a run of last minute inquiries means that as of today the numbers been bumped up to more than 400 sites booked. This includes space in a fifth pavilion added last week and which is also filling fast.

Organisers were looking at closing off bookings this Friday but with just a smattering of vacant grass sites left across the events area, few opportunities are now left for latecomers.

Mr Berry said this morning there were still a few spaces but it is now very full. Some exhibitors were only now realising they needed bigger sites.

"There are still limited spaces left but very little. People are ringing up and upgrading the size of their sites."

Mr Thompson said the 2020 festival would be the first time bookings had closed before the event had even started.

"It's been a massive influx since Christmas."

The bi-annual festival on March 27-28 has been moved forward to avoid Easter, which falls in the second week of April this year.

Mr Thompson said the final site map and the logistics were now being worked through earlier than usual due to the high interest.

Over 300 individual business or organisation exhibitors had registered. Unlike other similar field days or exhibits, Ag Fest did not charge sub-letting fees for sites, so some of the individual sites actually represented several exhibitors, he said.

Ag Fest had opened up a fifth large pavilion site for the overflow after those wanting to display in the four general pavilions and a women's pavilion, were "over-subscribed".

"It's a really good place to be and it's a month to go. We're ahead of where we expected to be -- significantly ahead. We're now in the logistics planning stage and we're getting excited."

Mr Thompson acknowledged the effort by West Coast businesses in supporting the event.

Ag Fest was held every second year in recognition of the effort by local businesses to organise, resource and mount their exhibits, alongside seasoned national exhibitors, he said.

"Local business is where it's at for us, it's a big investment for them to come - we recognise that."

Meantime, Ag Fest has launched 'Ag Chef' for the first time this year, aimed at "good, solid West Coast home cooks".

Organisers hoped more would grasp the opportunity to have a go.

"A lot of people are thinking they're not worthy. We're just looking for good home cooks to have a crack. If you can cook good at home, that's what we're looking for."

- By Brendon McMahon


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