Stage set for bumper Fieldays


Chief executive Peter Nation, speaking four weeks before the June 16 opening, said exhibitors are suggesting this year could be “a purler” as social media buzz indicates high visitor interest.

With exhibitors continuing to place high value on the four-day physical event, spaces were almost fully booked out and Nation didn’t discount having a record year.

Nation said the feedback they are getting through social media and other channels is that it will be well attended.

“A lot of people are really missing it and looking forward to coming.

“A lot of our exhibitors are saying we could be in for a purler this year.”

Competitions have been brought together in one area

Competitions have been brought together in one area

All that despite not having a full 12 months to prepare, after having to cancel last year’s event because of Covid and then get back up to speed in the aftermath.

“This just isn’t an average Fieldays, we’ve had challenges coming at us all ways,” Nation said.

Putting in a framework for Covid tracing on site was high on the list, with Fieldays the largest gathering by numbers annually in New Zealand.

Covid has also put pressure on accommodation, with up to half of Hamilton’s beds taken up as MIQ facilities or for emergency housing.

That will see Fieldays creating a campervan village at Claudelands for a week for exhibitors who were squeezed out of their usual accommodation.

The Society went to THL to bring the campervans down from Auckland in an inventive solution to the potential problem.

“It’s just been a very unusual year. Even though we’re well on track to stage Fieldays, we’ve had a lot of other things in our way.

Health and wellbeing remains an important part of the event

Health and wellbeing remains an important part of the event

As Nation says, in a normal year the physical event would be enough to organise in itself, but they are intent on continuing to stage Fieldays online and Fieldays TV, increasing the scale enormously.

“We always knew our digital piece was a big part of our future. So we put a lot of time into our ticketing system and our app, and we had Fieldays TV on the shelf as a strategy. And of course, Covid accelerated that.”

Fieldays TV will have a highly visible presence on the site, operating from a glass cube structure in
the Village Green. Big screens will mean visitors to the site can watch it, while it will also stream live over the four days of the event.

“It will have a full production schedule, starting each day. And we’ll livestream that out across New Zealand and around the world.”

Fieldays online starts ahead of the physical event, featuring material filmed last year, and will also continue after the event, with exhibitors able to use the medium for advertising space.

Nation said last year they had more than 90,000 unique viewers across 75 countries, despite limited opportunities to market the station.

The stats showed their main viewing was between 6pm and 9pm.

“So we were cutting across primetime news.”

While the loss of up to 3000 international visitors will be felt, Fieldays is likely to be the largest agricultural show in the world this year, with other events closed because of Covid.

Nation said the online presence would be important. “I think it does a number of things. It keeps our brand alive and our event alive around the world, it keeps the New Zealand brand alive and our customers’ brands alive in the innovation space and products.”

They plan to host overseas speakers virtually, and Nation said the offering would include short documentaries on the likes of different farming techniques, innovations and alternative energy sources. “We’re trying to be ahead of the curve.”

Innovations are set to remain a drawcard

Innovations are set to remain a drawcard

Meanwhile, the all-important physical event has been as big a drawcard as ever for exhibitors, with only the larger internationals absent.

Nation said they remain focused on the core mission of advancing agriculture, which means careers and education, health and wellbeing, and the innovations hub will all be back.

“It’s all about the whole vision of bringing people together and education and innovation.”

Visitors will find some changes to the site, notably including the competitions being brought together by shifting the excavators.

The app, which has become a feature of the event, is enhanced, while navigation will also be helped by vinyl-cut lines along the centre of the main roads, hopefully helping social distancing. Corners will include big letters denoting the street names, as well as arrows pointing to key areas including major precincts and toilets.

“So you should be able to navigate your way just with your eyes,” Nation said.

Each intersection will also have a Covid QR code for those who missed their chance at the entrance.

Further change sees them switch to a dawn opening on the Wednesday, rather than the traditional noon, while Nation said they’ve parked a number of ideas for next year, given the shortened run they’ve had for this year’s event after Covid.

“It’s a team effort. There’s a lot of thinking gone into this, and we’ve got a good pragmatic board. We know how important this is to the community. It will be good.”


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