Fieldays organisers hoping visitors will open wallets

By Nikki Preston

David Scoones stacks the shelves of the Skellerup stand with some of the 3500 pairs of gumboots the company expects to sell at Fieldays this week. Photo / Christine Cornege
David Scoones stacks the shelves of the Skellerup stand with some of the 3500 pairs of gumboots the company expects to sell at Fieldays this week. Photo / Christine Cornege

Deborah Allan has 3500 gumboots to sell in four days at Fieldays - and she has huge expectations even if it doesn't rain.

The Skellerup marketing executive was among the 980 exhibitors yesterday stocking their shelves in the final countdown to the 44th Fieldays event at Mystery Creek tomorrow.

Skellerup had been travelling from Christchurch to Fieldays for about 40 years and and relished the opportunity to talk to its end users - who went crazy for its Red Band gumboots.

"Even if it doesn't rain, people still will come in ... There's a lot of people who come every year to Fieldays to buy their gumboots. So they wait and they come see us every year," she said.

Fieldays organisers are aiming to get 120,000 visitors through the gates at this year's show - up 3000 on last year.

However, Fieldays spokeswoman Ariana Tucker said the main focus wasn't on the number of people who visited but whether they could beat last year's sales of $430 million.

"We would be glad if it just increases. It's not about how many more people we can get through the gate, it's about the quality from those visitors. So if we have a rise in exhibitor sales then we've done our job versus getting extra people though the gate."

Visitors should also brace themselves for an increase in ticket prices with adults paying $25 per ticket at the gate - up from $20 - and children's tickets up to $15 from $10.

The popular Rural Bachelor of the Year competition is taking a break this year, but farm materials will be transformed into fashion in the popular Ag Art Wear Show and chef Nici Wickes, who hosts World Kitchen on Food TV, will give cooking demonstrations.

Backyard inventions to high-tech equipment will also be on show at the Innovation Centre.

Hamilton i-Site manager Michelle Williams said bookings through the i-Site were about 20 per cent up on last year and they had also received more international requests from Australia and the US. The city's hotels and motels were full but there were still a few vacancies at B&Bs.

BNZ economist Doug Steel said it was hard to gauge whether farmers would be spending up big this year. "They would either take advantage of the good cashflow in the past year or take a cautionary approach and "show up but not spend".

"The outlook had a few clouds circling and obviously the European debt situation which is causing all sorts of uncertainty globally and seeing commodity prices fall already. It's making the outlook for the coming season not as good as the one that's past."

Waikato Federated Farmers president James Houghton was planning on spending about $10,000 on new farm technology but thought farmers would be cautious.

"There will be a lot of talking and people might secure deals within the six months but they will see what happens in the marketplace first."

- NZ Herald

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