THE Riverland Field Days is marking a major milestone this year, with the 60th event on next week.
Committee member Anthony Fulwood has been associated with the field days for more than 20 years and has undertaken a number of roles in that time, including chairman.
“When the field days first started off, the event was run by individual agricultural bureaus across the Riverland,” he said.
“The field days were rotated around the different towns each year.
“My first involvement with the field days was back in 1994, when Waikerie was hosting.”
The first Riverland Field Day was held on June 6, 1958, on a property at Pyap Street in Renmark. It featured 15 businesses, displaying 33 commercial exhibits.
The event was then known as the Riverland Implement and Gadget Field Day and it featured 16 inventors displaying 28 gadgets.
After previously being held on growers’ properties, the field days then began utilising town sporting ovals.
Mr Fulwood said as the event grew, it become increasingly difficult to hold it in the various Riverland towns, as it took a huge amount of time for volunteers to set up the sites.
“It just started to get harder and harder, holding in on town ovals,” he said.
“So, a committee was formed to look into going to a permanent site.”
Mr Fulwood was a member of that committee, which eventually took on the running of the field days from the agricultural bureaus.
The committee decided to set up a permanent site at Barmera and work started on the site in June, 2000. The first field days were held at the site in September the following year.
“From then on, we’ve just continued to grow,” Mr Fulwood said.
He said the field days attracted a crowd from a large range of areas including the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Plains, Clare Valley, Adelaide, Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills and Mildura, Vic.
“We usually draw in about 15,000 people every year,” he said.
Recently, the committee managed to secure a federal government grant through the Building Better Regions fund to build a new pavilion at the site.
The grant was worth $405,090, which will go a long way to covering the $850,000 cost.
“After this year’s field days, we’ll get moving on the project,” Mr Fulwood said.
“Our main aim with the new pavilion is to hire the site out more during the year, rather than it only being used a few days a year.”
The Riverland Bird Club already uses the site.
“Next year the Ulysses motorcycle club is using it for its annual general meeting,” Mr Fulwood said.
- This story first appeared in Stock Journal.