Fieldays 2024: Resilience and innovation amid economic challenges

Fieldays® once again provided a platform for industry leaders, sector professionals, and farmers to converge as the primary sector grapples with its own challenges

The event concluded last week, drawing 106,000 visitors who navigated a mix of sun, clouds, and rain, reflecting the adaptability and spirit of the farming community.

“There is no escaping the headwinds of the current economy. Businesses and individuals are doing it tough. Despite this, 1069 exhibitors turned up and turned it on for our visitors,” says Peter Nation, New Zealand National Fieldays Society chief executive.

Exhibitors cemented their positions in their respective markets, demonstrating their long-term commitment, with many having exhibited for decades.

“It will take time to understand the true impact of the sales made from Fieldays, but overall, there is a feeling of cautious optimism that budgets have at least been met in most areas,” says Peter.

Case IH network development manager, Murray Grant, noted 28% growth on last year’s sales, despite a general market downturn of 25–% to 30%, he says.

Fieldays 2024 introduced new features, including the Fieldays VIP Business Plus Lounge —developed to enhance the experience of business leaders onsite — the opening of the Fieldays Rural Advocacy Hub and a Family Activation Zone.

The Fieldays Rural Advocacy Hub is a collaboration between Fieldays and Federated Farmers where visitors stopped by to converse with sector representatives on topics such as emissions, methane targets, banking, freshwater rules and more.

This year’s Fieldays Innovation Award winners brought fibre to the forefront, with winners Fleecegrow, KiwiFibre, and WoolAid all showcasing innovative uses for wool and Harakeke/flax. Mark-It also caught the judge’s attention, and St Peter’s Cambridge student Penny Ranger was awarded Young Innovator. The award winners shared a $70,000 prize pool and attracted significant market attention.

International representation was strong, with a total of 49 businesses from nine countries exhibiting, 25 delegations registered from 15 countries, and 17 embassies with delegates attending the event.

The Fieldays Hubs highlighted the organisation’s strategic pillars of innovations, education, and globalisation. The Fieldays Hauora Taiwhenua Health & Wellbeing Hub, Fieldays Careers & Education Hub, Fieldays Foresty Hub, and the Fieldays Sustainability Hub saw engaged visitors eager to absorb valuable information.

Traditional Fieldays attractions, such as Fencing, Tractor Pull, and Excavators, provided competitions throughout the four days. Full results are available on the Fieldays website.

Looking ahead, the focus now shifts to the 2025 event and maximising efforts to provide an optimum experience and connection between attendees and exhibitors.

“While the metric of quantity through the gates is important, the true measure lies in attracting the right individuals who represent the entire food and fibre value chain. Something we continue to work towards year on year,” says Taryn Storey, head of customer and strategic engagement, New Zealand National Fieldays Society.

“We need to provide excitement and learning opportunities for our recreational visitors and families to take time off-farm, celebrate and connect with their advisors and supporters. In this respect, the Rural Advocacy Hub is likely to grow in importance as a destination for our visitors to seek support and advice in one place.”

Despite rising costs, online Fieldays ticket prices have remained the same for the past five years.

“This decision reflects our dedication to ensuring the event remains accessible, while striving to provide value without compromising the quality of our event,” says Taryn.

The event’s success was made possible by more than 150 volunteers, along with dedicated staff, supportive partners and premier sponsors, and the 1069 exhibitors.

Fieldays will be back at Mystery Creek from 11 to 14 June 2025.

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