It was smiles all round for organisers with record numbers of exhibitors, reasonable crowd numbers and glorious summer sunshine for the opening day of the 27th Northland Field Days at Dargaville yesterday.
Numbers were down on last year's record crowd of 7100 with just over 5000 (unofficial estimation at 3pm) at the annual three-day event - the largest agriculture event in Northland and one of the largest in the country.
However, field days president Lew Duggan said: "This year's event has run very smoothly. We seem to be better organised and there have been no last-minute rushes - everyone has been happy and there have been no real problems. Set-up days have been positive and happy with none of the grumbles we sometimes get - everything has gone better than planned," he said.
"The weather forecast is a bonus - I know the fine weather is far from good news for the region's farmers, but for us the three-day forecast is a relief."
Inclement weather has caused problems in the past, but other than a one-off Saturday cancellation several years ago organisers, exhibitors and the public have "weathered" it all.
New events this year include a silent auction for thousands of dollars worth of the latest weighing and fencing gear and a daily gate prize.Yesterday's $4800 prize winner was not available at time of print.
A couple of "newbies" to the field days were Mark Turner - a shepherd from Warkworth who trialled his 2-year-old heading dog Spy for the first time. While first-time jitters affected Spy's performance a little, Mr Turner said he was pleased with the way the dog had run.
He said the field days event was a good opportunity to get dogs out in a show and also gave him a chance to pick up advice and tips from seasoned triallists.
Spy was given to him by well-known breeder Bon Sceats.
Also making its debut at the field days with a site of its own was fencing company Gallagher which this year celebrates its 75th birthday.
Best Outdoor Site was BRP (Aust) Pty Limited; Best Indoor Site, Cuddle Buddy; and Sweepa NZ Best New Site was Certified Builders of New Zealand.