Another year, another fantastic Fieldays. For Mark Dawe of Bayleys Waikato, it’s definitely an annual highlight.
PHOTOS SALINA GALVAN
We’re a number-eight-wire kind of country, but back in the day, Fieldays’ team of volunteers took it to the next level, providing just a coil of copper wire as a tangible asset when securing finance for the 1970 purchase of the event’s current site at Hamilton’s Mystery Creek. Since its humble yet enthusiastically received beginning at Te Rapa Racecourse two years before, Fieldays has continued to grow to become the largest agribusiness event in the southern hemisphere – and this year, it turned 50. We spoke to one of its loyal attendees, Bayleys’ Mark Dawe.
UNO: How long have you been going to Fieldays?
MARK: I’ve been coming here as a stallholder with Bayleys for 13 years. It’s such a great way to catch up with past vendors and purchasers, and a really positive chance to connect with other informed people, including farm owners and workers, lifestyle property owners, and rural professionals – bankers, accountants, consultants and the like. Everyone’s off the farm and out of the office, so it’s a nice relaxed place to be.
UNO: What makes the event itself so unique?
MARK: I think Fieldays is so popular because it caters to such a wide audience. You can find everything from tractors and farm machinery to spa pools, clothing, food and even fidget spinners, if that’s your thing!
UNO: What do visitors find at the Bayleys stand?
MARK: Several staff are on site every year to answer questions and, of course, we have plenty of copies of our magazine Preview on hand, so people can have a good look at the selection of residential and rural properties we have available.
UNO: Fieldays was started by a group of volunteers, and they still play a huge role in the expo’s success. What are your thoughts on this aspect of the event?
MARK: I think it’s really important to appreciate the hundreds of people
who help out at Fieldays, including volunteers from the not-for-profit Fieldays Society. Our rural communities would not be what they are without volunteers, and whether you’re from town or country, I believe we all have
to be prepared to ‘bring to the table before you take from the table’, at
work, at play and with family.
UNO: How do you think Fieldays will develop over the coming years?
MARK: The development in the time I’ve been involved has been incredible, and Fieldays has worked really hard to ensure that the facilities cater for both the increasing size of the crowd and the changing types of people attending. I’ve noticed that these days a lot more people from cities attend, both as stallholders and visitors. If you ask me, it’s fantastic that so many people want to be here, and that young and old, farmers and townies all get a chance to pull on their gumboots for the day.
UNO: You must have met people from all walks of life through the Bayleys stall.
MARK: One of the highlights for me is the opportunity Fieldays provides to meet up with people who live or work in other districts. Some of the businesses with stands near ours operate at the other end of the country, so it’s awesome to get together for a cuppa and a yarn. The owners of a stand not far from ours are long-time family friends of one of
my colleagues and have known him all his life. Whenever we get together, they delight in telling funny stories from his childhood – which we then wind him up about until next year