IT was a big day for landmarks at Henty yesterday. The opening of the town’s machinery field days marked the 50th anniversary of the event — and the 100th for the iconic Akubra hat.
Visitors donned their best country attire to tackle the mud, up to their ankles in parts, but the rain was not enough to keep the crowd away.
Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer pointed out the changes in agriculture over five decades when he opened the event, saying it was only a dream in the 1960s.
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Mr Fischer said the event played an even more important role than recognising the work of farmers in that it provided further education.
“It is an event, this, of impacting by providing knowledge,” he said.
“And of course, there is that jingle that drives you mad.”
Mr Fischer was also impressed how the leadership role of women in agricultural had grown so much.
“We are stepping into the 21st century and we need to recognise that 50 per cent of the agricultural workforce is made up of women folk,” he said.
“They do not have kitchen or computer roles, they are well trained and are capable of bringing strong leadership.”
Henty Machinery Field Days chairman Ross Edwards said there were 800 exhibitors this year and organisers expected more than 60,000 visitors through the gates.
“The advancement over 50 years is incredible,” he said.
Mr Edwards said he was amazed at the advances made in producing farm machinery and pointed to an old header from the ’60s to prove his point.
“One of the machines we use now could harvest more in a day then all these put together,” he said.
Mr Fischer said that the Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce, who was confirmed on Monday as the incoming agriculture minister in the new Abbott government, would be a “fantastic minister”.
“He will bring dedication and determination to the job,” he said.