Tribute to field days volunteers

by Mike Isle

When the South Island’s oldest and one of its largest agricultural field days kicks off in Kirwee on March 27, it will be because of the help of dozens of volunteers who organisers say have put in thousands of hours during the past year ensuring the event runs smoothly.

Publicity officer for the South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) Daniel Schat says many volunteers put in a considerable amount of their own time into organising and running the event every two years.

“There is a core team, and everyone puts in countless hours of unpaid time to put the event together,” he said.

“We have an organising committee plus an executive committee that oversees spending for larger financial decisions. There are 25 people on the committee, and some of those people have been there for many years.”

Daniel has been involved in organising the past six field days, which he does between his full-time job as a dairy farmer, milking 385 cows at Darfield.

“Most of us take time off work during the week of the field days. Some people use annual leave to do it, and others rely on the support of employers, staff and their families. It means time away from family to put the event together,” he said.

“I do it because I enjoy seeing a successful event run in the local community. The event wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for all the volunteers.”

Besides SIAFD’s organising and executive committees, several local community groups and schools help run various aspects of the field days.

They include Young Farmers, who do the car parking under the leadership of committee members Robin Hornblow and Martin Bates. Daniel said many people who attend SIAFD do not realise the large number of people involved are often giving their time.

“Being such a big event with more than 600 exhibitors; there will always be logistical challenges, but most exhibitors and members of the public appreciate the fact that the committee members are all volunteers.”

SIAFD is focussed on servicing the wider community. It gives away two $2,500 scholarships each year to Lincoln University students. This year’s recipients are Amy Wells and Callum Woodhouse.

The event also supports other community groups and last year donated $5,000 to the Kirwee Volunteer Fire Brigade to help it purchase a new vehicle.

SIAFD runs from Wednesday, March 27 to Friday, March 29, and preparations are well on track, Daniel said.