A top-level fencing competition was dropped at the last minute from this year's Fieldays after the main sponsor pulled out.
Wiremark, which owns naming rights to the Golden Pliers, would not say why it withdrew its sponsorship but the Weekend Herald understands that it believed the fencing competition did not get enough marketing exposure from the Fieldays Society.
"Publicity stunts" such as the Rural Bachelor of the Year, Ag Art Wear and MasterChef judge Josh Emett's kitchen received much of the attention, fencing organisers say.
The Golden Pliers is a trophy awarded to the best farm fencer at the annual competition.
Organisers say it inspires high industry standards.
Wiremark export and wire distribution product sales manager Andy Macdonald said the outcome was disappointing.
The Golden Pliers was a renowned event which attracted top quality competitors as well as international spectators who watched Kiwi methods and techniques, he said.
"It's the world's largest fencing event and the Golden Pliers is the most prestigious event recognised around the world."
Wiremark would review its position next year if there was a "sufficient level of engagement and organisation".
Fieldays fencing committee member Craig Graham said elite fencers had boycotted the competition and only one senior fencer had entered.
There were only seven entrants, compared with the usual 30-plus.
One of the fencers had been in the trade only four months and the others were so junior that judges removed a requirement to hang a gate to avoid "embarrassing" the entrants.
Mr Graham said the Golden Pliers was equivalent to the Golden Shears, a highly sought after trophy which gave mana to the winner.
Even just being a finalist guaranteed more work.
A 14-time winner of the Golden Pliers, Paul Van Beers, said fencers were so disappointed they were pursuing other venues to hold the competition, and the Hawkes Bay Show in October was the likely option.
Strainrite Fencing Systems director Maurice Wooster, another sponsor, said international buyers at his stand indicated they would not return to Fieldays without the Golden Pliers.
Fieldays events manager Vanessa Richmond denied that some events at Fieldays were given more attention than others.
National farm fencing competition
Running for at least 40 years at Fieldays
Attracts the best fencers in the country
Sets a high benchmark and raises industry standards