AS AGQUIP officials celebrated the event’s 40-year history yesterday, organisers said it had been one of the biggest days in history for the premier agricultural event.
Traffic flow was believed to be the biggest it had ever been as tens of thousands of people arrived at the second day of the three-day event – traditionally the busiest.
A crowd of about 70 people attended the official celebration where hundreds who’d been involved since 1973 were thanked.
Rural Press Events general manager and AgQuip chief Barry Harley began the proceedings with a welcome to all the field day’s special guests and industry heavyweights.
They included NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson, Commonwealth Bank regional and agribusiness banking executive general manager Geoff Wearne, Fairfax media agricultural CEO Grant Cochrane, Gunnedah mayor Adam Marshall and one of AgQuip’s founding fathers Max Ellis.
Ms Hodgkinson said the event was as popular as ever and that was evident from the 2km long line of cars in the main street of Gunnedah that had been waiting to get in.
“It’s terrific to see it’s as big and strong as ever,” she said.
Ms Hodgkinson believed AgQuip was one of the biggest industry field day events in the world; bringing about 175,000 people each year, securing about 3000 exhibitors – many from overseas – and injecting more than a billion dollars into the local economy.
“It truly is a major event for Gunnedah and the New England North West,” she said.
The minister urged the crowd to make the most of AgQuip and take advantage of the great networking opportunities.
After being a sponsor since 1973, the event marked a milestone for the Commonwealth Bank also and it was thought its relationship with AgQuip could be one of the longest standing commercial sponsorships in Australia.
The Commonwealth Bank’s Geoff Wearne said they remained committed to the regional agribusiness sector.
“The number of people here today demonstrates why AgQuip remains such an important event,” Mr Wearne said.
Fairfax’s Grant Cochrane said it was a testament to the organisers of the event that so many people continued to turn up after all these years.
“No one can miss the excitement of an AgQuip steak sandwich,” Mr Cochrane said.
Mayor Adam Marshall spoke about how the event evolved as rural Australia evolved.
Cr Marshall said it would be impossible to to start an event like it these days and remarked how hard it would have been to start it 40 years ago also.
Mr Ellis remarked at how much the event had grown over those 40 years – from the very first 73 exhibitors and much smaller crowds, to the comprehensive market place it had become today.
“Who would’ve thought 40 years ago an idea we were throwing around could turn into this,” he said.
Mr Ellis said that first year had been a big one for him and the radio 2TM team because it was the same year the Tamworth Country Music was born.