Hundreds of Canterbury farming families had a day at the races recently to help them relax off the farm, following a stressful year dealing with Mycoplasma bovis.

The Farming Family Day at the Races was organised by rural advocate Chris Wiggins and Ashburton Trotting Club president Craig Harrison, in conjunction with Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury and Federated Farmers.

The free event was held during an Ashburton Trotting Club meeting.

The day at the races aimed to lift the spirits of those within the rural community dealing with the stress around M.bovis. It was open to anyone with a rural address in Canterbury.

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Mr Wiggins said rain on the day did not stop farming families from attending, and he estimated more than 300 people came along.

It was a ''great day'' and one he was proud to be involved with.

There was some great sponsorship from within the rural sector and beyond, which helped to supply fantastic prizes and food throughout the day.

Along with the endless supply of food, there were also refreshments on site and a host of entertainments for children, which included a face painting artist, an inflatable basketball hoop and adventure playground area.

Art supplies were also available.

By early afternoon, Rural Support Trust Mid Canterbury chairman Peter Reveley said a couple of families had won accommodation packages for a family getaway with losing tote ticket draws, but there were still plenty of gift baskets and other prizes for the rest of the day.

As well as volunteers on site, Mr Reveley said local MPs had also been put to work.

Labour List MP Jo Luxton, of Hinds, took photographs for the trust and Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon helped out behind the bar.

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Farming families also got to meet some of New Zealand's top harness drivers and other sporting celebrities who mingled among them during the day.