The East Gippsland Field Days committee is celebrating another successful event, with great numbers through the gate on Friday and Saturday and a sell out exhibitor site. “We had a great lead up to the event this year, selling out every exhibitor plot and having to create new sites for exhibitors right up until the night before,” event manager, Sue-Ellen Latham, said. “Generally a week out we would have several sites free and be able to accommodate late bookings easily. This year we were scurrying around the night before working out new locations so we could get everyone in.” Mrs Latham said the influx of exhibitor bookings brought about a range of new people to the event and, importantly, to the district. “We welcomed many new exhibitors this year who had travelled from right across Australia,” she said. “We changed our marketing a little this year and did a lot more in the social media space and I think that has paid off as we have attracted a range of different businesses to our event. “The fall back from this was brilliant for the local economy. I drove through town early Friday morning and noticed no vacancy signs on every accommodation place I passed.
“I had a phone call from a local B&B who had a cancellation on a room they, thought one of our late exhibitors might need one and they phoned because they knew every other place in town was booked out. “Many of these people arrived Thursday and some stayed on until Sunday,” she said. “All of them would have eaten out or shopped at the local supermarkets, so it’s fantastic to see how well everyone does out of our event. “We also had a large number of exhibitors trying to re book their sites yesterday before they left, so we know we are doing something right,” Mrs Latham said. Moving with the times, the committee made changes to ticketing, making it available online, which proved popular. “This was the first year we have moved to online tickets sales and we were really pleased with the number of people who gave this a go. “Our volunteer gate staff did a magnificent job getting the online sales customers through really quickly, which was a perk of having pre purchased your ticket.” Mrs Latham said a more family-orientated focus improved the overall aspect of the event. “The Unchained BMX shows drew really large crows on Saturday and the line up for the animal nursery and reptile show were long,” she said.
“We have changed our focus a little bit over the past two years to make sure there is plenty to do for families once they have paid their gate fee. “All of our children’s entertainment is free of charge and we think local families are really starting to appreciate the effort that goes into this. “I must say I have never seen so many young families with prams out here on a Saturday, so we are thrilled with that.” Overall, the committee was pleased with the two-day event, with planning already started for 2018. “None of this would be possible without the amazing support we get from a huge number of local volunteers. They stem from sporting and community clubs across the region and they give up their time to run the car park, the ticket box, to set up and pack up and to work each day helping with anything that needs doing. “We are really lucky that each year they keep putting their hands up and they do an incredible job.” Exhibitors were eager to show off their wares as guests from Bairnsdale through to Melbourne and Mallacoota toured the grounds on Friday and Saturday on the look out for a bargain, a feed, or to be inspired by the variety of products on display.
Despite an overcast early morning, when the gates opened at 9am on Friday the sun made a timely appearance, keeping the aerodrome warm for the record number of exhibitors. Briagolong’s Patsy James and her husband were there bright and early on the Friday, arriving before the gates opened. “We’ve been going for the past three years,” Patsy, who was particularly impressed by the Lioness Club of Lindenow’s tea cosy display, said. Both Patsy and her husband cast their votes for the competition, which saw the winner take away a gorgeous pink and gold teapot. Lioness, Veronica Alexander, said the group decided at their November meeting to do something a bit different and came up with the idea for the display, which featured 70 individually designed cosies made by Lioness members and other participants. More than 260 exhibitors had wares on offer at this year’s event, with a number exhibiting for the first time. Rita Coffey, of Grow Heirloom Seeds, was on hand early Friday morning to sell her heirloom seeds and plants at the field days for the third year in a row. “It’s really exciting,” Rita said. “I always have a great time, and with the sun out, it should be such a good day.” The woolshed was packed with action on Friday, with local shearers, wool handlers and spinners demonstrating their talent for the Gippsland Sheep Breeders Association Weather Trials. Onlookers were vocally impressed by the display, which one wool spinner said is a great way to give the public the opportunity to see what goes on in the shed.