Seek­ing any gal­lant ru­ral gents

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - STAFF RE­PORTERS

Are you a gal­lant ru­ral gent who is more at home be­hind the wheel of a trac­tor than in the back seat of an UBER?

Then you might just have what it takes to be the New Zealand Agri­cul­tural Fiel­d­ays’ Ru­ral Bach­e­lor of the Year.

Eight fi­nal­ists will be se­lected for the pop­u­lar com­pe­ti­tion, which takes place dur­ing Fiel­d­ays at Mys­tery Creek Events Cen­tre from June 14 to 17.

The Ru­ral Bach­e­lor com­pe­ti­tion is now in its sev­enth year and en­tries close at the end of March.

Fi­nal­ists have their farm­ing skills, at­ti­tude and all-round charisma put to the test dur­ing a series of ru­ral themed chal­lenges, in­clud­ing fenc­ing, cook­ing, wood split­ting, dog han­dling and health and safety.

The win­ner walks away with a prize pack worth more than $20,000 along with the cov­eted Golden Gum­boot tro­phy.

Last year’s Fiel­d­ays Ru­ral Bach­e­lor of the Year, Paul Olsen, said he en­tered be­cause his mates en­cour­aged him and he had ‘‘noth­ing to lose’’.

‘‘It's a bril­liant ex­pe­ri­ence. It re­ally pushes you out of your com­fort zone, but in a good way.’’

The potato and dry stock farmer from Opiki in Manawatu said the week was full on, ex­cit­ing and filled with op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘‘The so­cial­is­ing and net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties are huge.

‘‘I met a great bunch of blokes, and ladies, and we still keep in touch,’’ said Olsen. Olsen said he’s ready to hand over the ti­tle. ‘‘My ad­vice for this year’s guys is to give it a go, it’s a bril­liant ex­pe­ri­ence. It re­ally pushes you out of your com­fort zone, but in a good way.’’ He’s also tech­ni­cally not a bach­e­lor any­more. ‘‘Yep, I was for­tu­nate enough to meet some­one,’’ said Olsen.

‘‘She’s in the ru­ral in­dus­try too – she’s pretty awe­some.’’

This year’s com­pe­ti­tion kicks off on Monday, June 12, with the Farm­lands Road Trip. Start­ing in Auck­land, the eight fi­nal­ists will make their way across Auck­land, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, vis­it­ing ru­ral Farm­lands stores on the way and tak­ing part in ac­tiv­i­ties and chal­lenges.

Once Fiel­d­ays of­fi­cially starts on Wed­nes­day, June 14, the fi­nal­ists will take part in daily chal­lenges with the win­ner an­nounced at the of­fi­cial prize giv­ing on Satur­day, June 17. Two ti­tles are up for grabs again – Ru­ral Bach­e­lor of the Year and Peo­ple’s Choice Award.

Fiona Tun­ni­cliffe of Pu­taruru cre­ates pot­tery sculp­tures of horses and other an­i­mals.

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