THE Riverland Field Days is one of the state's major horticulture events and is marking its 60th anniversary on September 15 and 16.
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 & 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 it 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 facility 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.
Governor Hieu Van Le will be a special guest at this year’s field days.
“We are honoured to welcome the governor, it will be of special significance as we celebrate the 60th Riverland Field Days,” event chairman James Butler said.
The governor will attend on Friday, September 15, and will give a welcome speech, and meet guests at a luncheon.
Chef Genevieve Harris – who started her hospitality career at the Grey Masts restaurant in Robe – will be conducting cooking demonstrations.
She has spent almost 30 years involved in the industry, holding the position of executive chef at the Amankila resort in Bali, The Bathers Pavilion Restaurant at Balmoral beach in Sydney and Jacob’s Creek winery in the Barossa Valley, as well as owning her own restaurant Nediz in Adelaide. Ms Harris also passes on her knowledge to aspiring cooks at the Sticky Rice cooking school in the Adelaide Hills.
Another popular feature of the field days is the Ag Art-Wear competition, which requires entrants to create a wearable garment from materials and items used on-farm.