Monday, November 28, 2022

Henty worth $100 million to economy

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After a two-year hiatus the national economy benefited from a $100 million injection from the biggest and most successful Henty Machinery Field Days on record.

Community groups throughout the Riverina were also the benefactors of the record-breaking 70,000 strong crowd, whose funds raised by the not-for-profit Henty Machinery Field Days to be ploughed back into community social capital and infrastructure.

Held on September 20-22, the 59th annual field days featured 14km of outdoor shop fronts from over 800 exhibitors on over 1200 sites.

The combination of three above average seasons and record commodity prices resulted in visitors responding from every state in Australia, seeking out the hot ticket items of hay, tillage, fencing, and grain handling equipment, tractors, headers and stock handling equipment.

HMFD chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the record-breaking crowd had forced an unprecedented decision to turn back ticket holders from the gates as the grounds and carpark reached capacity by midday on Thursday.

Mrs Anderson said neighbouring paddocks were also used to absorb the excess vehicles.

“We have had a record 70,000 visitors across the three days with the bulk of those attending on Thursday,” she said.

“This is a record attendance in the 59 years of field days history. It is possibly a number we will never see again.

“The combination of a public holiday, good weather and the return from Covid created the perfect storm.

“Sadly, for public safety reasons we had to close the gates and turn people away on Thursday. All gate entry tickets for those who could not get in on Thursday will be refunded.

“The HMFD volunteers were so positive and enthusiastic coping under extreme pressure considering these people walk away from their other lives for the two weeks of the field days.”

Mrs Anderson said the record event represented a massive economic injection to the local, regional and national economy.

“Considering the economic value to the national economy in 2014 represented $92 million, it would be worth well over $100 million to the national economy today,” she said.

“Our exhibitors are over the moon, reporting enormous sales of all manner of agricultural products and services.”

This year the program incorporated an evening concert featuring country music stars Brooke McClymont, Adam Eckersley and Danny Phegan.

The free entertainment was made possible by a grant submitted by Greater Hume Council to the NSW Government for the Reconnecting Regional NSW – Community Events Program.

Mrs Anderson said HMFD hosted a trade delegation from the Province of Santa Fe, Argentina, headed by the Minister for Production, Science and Technology for the Province, Daniel Costamagna, on the Tuesday and Thursday.

The delegates were actively looking to explore mutual business opportunities in agricultural machinery, agtech, sprayers, biotech and livestock.

The field days were officially opened on September 20 by Joy Beames, CWA of NSW State President, in tribute of the organisation’s commitment to and advocacy for regional, rural and remote families over the past century.

A highlight of this year was the coveted Henty Machine of the Year Award being presented to the MacDon FD2 Flex Draper, en-tered by MacDon Australia Pty Ltd.

Walbundrie Building Committee treasurer Sue Collins said funds raised by working in the main food shed at Henty were invested back into the community.

Up to 70 volunteers drawn from around Walbundrie staff the shed on a roster serving 9000 buckets of chips, 2000 chicken schnitzel burgers and 2500 steak sandwiches.

“Missing it for the last two years has been detrimental for the town,” Mrs Collins said.

“We were excited to have the main shed this year and use the funds for students furthering their sport or needing accommodation, people who are sick or anyone needing help in the community.”

Narrandera Argus 29 September 2022

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 29 September 2022.

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