A record number of visitors flocked to the National Horticultural Field Days this year, many from out of town, organisers say.

Event organiser Anna Hamilton said more than 3000 people visited a sun-drenched Showgrounds Hawke's Bay for yesterday's field days, which attracted people from around the North Island.

It was pleasing to see the event garner national relevance, Ms Hamilton said.

"We've worked hard to grow this event and showcase the unique nature of it - bringing together education, networking, trade and access to top quality research and innovation all in one place.


"We have plans to grow the event even more next year so it's an exciting time."

Visitors at the field days watched a variety of industry-related competitions including the 10th annual Hawke's Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year.

Ms Hamilton said the competition had begun as a separate event but was now run in conjunction with the field day.

It was open to anyone currently involved in the fruit industry below 30 years of age and ran for much of the day as competitors completed practical challenges.

Competition organiser Leon Stallard said the fruit growing skills of nine individuals were tested by a number of scenarios, including administering first aid to a dummy that had fallen from a tree.

Tukituki MP Craig Foss, Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and New Zealand First MP Winton Peters all came to watch the competition and interact with the competitors.

The competition would conclude tonight with a formal dinner at Mission Estate Winery in Taradale.

Mr Stallard said 190 people were expected at the event and the competitors would give three-minute speeches to a panel of professional judges.


First place would receive a $1000 Horticentre-sponsored cash prize plus a grant donated by Pickmee to be used for further training, education or professional development and a trip to Nelson including airfares and accommodation, sponsored by Turners and Growers Ltd.

Second place would receive $750 and a study trip to Nelson, while third place would receive $500.

The winner of the competition would go on to represent the region at the New Zealand Young Grower of the Year competition.

The region's 2013 winner, Hawke's Bay apple grower Ben James, went on to national acclaim, scooping the national Young Fruit Grower of the Year 2013 and Young Grower of the Year 2013 titles.

"You've got to put your best foot forward at every stage of the competition and stretch yourself personally and professionally," Mr James said.