Community at heart of event
Sites are marked, tents are up, and the Speed Lions Club’s 41st Mallee Machinery Field Days event is only days away.
The two-day agriculture showcase, on July 31 and August 1, has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the paddocks of regional farmers in Yarriambiack Shire.
The first event in 1979 featured fewer than 40 exhibitors.
Now, about 8500 interstate and regional visitors venture to the site off the Sunraysia Highway near Speed township each year to take in the machinery and equipment on display at up to 350 exhibits.
Mallee Machinery Field Days is an opportunity for farmers and industry members to learn about and evaluate what is on offer, and a social place for mates to ‘catch up’.
But for Speed Lions Club members, behind it all is a chance to support their community.
Mallee Machinery Field Days committee president and Speed Lions Club member Terry Kiley said giving back to the community was at the heart of all involved.
Mallee Machinery Fields Days started as, and still is, a way to raise money for the Speed Lions Club so it can provide a ‘helping hand to those in need’.
From hospital and church donations to families that might be struggling financially or with ill children, members said money raised at the Field Days returned to its regional community ‘one way or another’.
And it is this community that gives its support right back, with organisations, schools and sporting groups working alongside the club each year to assist with the running and catering of the event.
Past club president Kevin Emonson said Mallee Machinery Field Days ‘wouldn’t survive without the community’.
“In this part of the world you have got to do a lot of chook raffles to raise $1000,” he said.
“So, we thank everyone who has supports us.
“There are only 24 club members, there would not be a hope in hell we could run it all alone. It is hard in a way, but I think the field days is something people like to be involved in.
“People don’t mind supporting it because they know it’s helping the community, that is what it is for.
“We try to support as many local things as we can and it’s great seeing what the community gets out of it.
“A couple of times we have had families who have children with cancer, and because the field days have been so successful, we are able to support them.”
Mr Kiley said the club, being a small volunteer ‘district’ group, ran the risk of burn-out, which was why community support was so important to the club and its event.
“We’d like to get more members, but it is pretty sparse out here and people seem to be just too busy,” he said.
“It is usually the same people who are involved in the clubs like this that are involved at schools or sporting clubs. We just have to keep approaching people.”
Regardless, members said the satisfaction from their hard work was well worth the effort.
Committee secretary Andrew Mclean has been in the role for 11 years, and a member of Speed Lions Club for about 16 years.
He said although the event was time-consuming, being able to help the community and form bonds along the way outweighed it all.
“It is a sense of achievement, it puts a smile on the dial,” he said
People can visit the 2019 Mallee Machinery Field Days between 8.30am and 5pm on both days.
Organisers have requested cash only at the gate.
LEADER: Mallee Machinery Field Days committee president and Speed Lions Club member Terry Kiley.