The Australian National Field Days committee forecast lower-than-usual crowd numbers this year due to the drought.
And while that prediction was correct, attendance was still better than expected, with field days manager Jayne West saying that while overall numbers were down, there was a good crowd on Saturday.
Mrs West said usually about 20,000 people flocked to the field days, but this year between 15,000 and 16,000 people attended the three-day event.
Friday had the lowest attendance, with about 4200 people through the gate.
“We were expecting the worst because a number of other field days had lower numbers,” Mrs West said.
She said many farmers were hand-feeding stock and couldn’t leave their properties to attend.
Despite the lower numbers, she said almost all exhibitors were positive when they came into the office, saying they’d made sales or had interest.
She said although people may not have had the spare funds to purchase new equipment or machinery, the field days meant they could see what was available for when they started to turn a profit again.
“There were three gorgeous days of weather, that’s helped bring people out,” she said.
Due to the drought, she said there was a different slant to the field days this year, with medical tests and information sessions for farmers.
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Mrs West said it was also an ideal time to have the Department of Primary Industries as its feature exhibitor, given its role as a hub in drought relief operations.
She said the hub had a range of services that could help farmers make assessments about whether they qualified for drought relief, as well information on what feed to give livestock.
“The other side is the mental health side as well,” Mrs West said.
On Saturday, one of the exhibits was a talk on farm safety for seniors presented by Annette Brown from the Orange branch of NSW Farmers.
Mrs Brown said many farmers are in their 50s, 60s and 70s, so it was important to get the safety messages across that they shouldn’t work alone among livestock, and their reaction times would be slower.
She said safety issues surrounding all terrain vehicles, as well as other machinery were also key points.
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