Long Fieldays tradition continues
This year’s 50th Fieldays is going to be a special occasion for former Otorohanga dairy farmer Bill Johnson.
Johnson had attended Fieldays every year since it kicked off half a century ago.
This year he will be its guest of honour at the flag-raising ceremony, to officially open the event at Mystery Creek near Cambridge, on June 13.
Johnson moved to Southland in 2008 but remained a longstanding supporter of the event.
He said it was never his intention to attend them all, it just became a tradition.
He had seen a lot of change in the 50 years and while the event had grown, he believed the core purpose of Fieldays remained the same.
It’s what keeps him coming back to Mystery Creek.
‘‘New ideas and inventions can come and go at times, but the core of farming is still there.’’
His name became known to Fieldays administrators when his niece responded to a social media request for stories from dedicated Fieldays attendees.
He noted some changes since he attended the first New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays in 1969, or the Town and Country Fair as it was then known.
First on the list was the timing and then the weather. Formerly Fieldays was held during summer before it was moved to June.
‘‘A bit of rain would mean about six inches of mud and cars sliding all over the place trying to get out,’’ Johnson said.
‘‘No worries about the weather now. These days, you can get around Fieldays in your good shoes.
‘‘Back then it took around about three hours now it’s more like three days.’’
Johnson said it was great to see the advancement in new farm machinery over the years.
‘‘In the early days, tractors were a lot smaller. Over the years, they’ve become more like tree toppers.’’
Fieldays starts at Mystery Creek from June 13.
Former Waikato farmer Bill Johnson is looking forward to attending his 50th Fieldays event.