THE AgQuip site west of Gunnedah has seen a steady roll- up of the first big wheels as the largest agricultural supermarket in the southern hemisphere prepares to open.
Organiser Barry Harley has reported many exhibitors setting up well ahead of schedule for the 42nd year of the rural expo.
The Rural Press Events general manager said the fact many of the 800 sites were being set up early for the 3000 companies on show was a good sign that exhibitors wanted to be better prepared. He was also completely unfazed at the prospect of up to 30mm of rain falling in the district this weekend, saying it would probably only encourage more farming families to get out and spend, spend, spend at Australia’s biggest field days.
“Visitor numbers (usually around the 100,000 mark) might fluctuate, but the quality goes up because farming families can’t do much on their farms when it’s raining,” Mr Harley said.
There are 100 new exhibitors this year – something which he’s very proud of as AgQuip celebrates its 42nd year during tough financial times. The big machinery and tractors are back, too, after not being as prevalent in recent years.
“I’m ecstatic. Everyone was predicting because of the tough climatic and economic conditions it would be a hard year, but it’s the best year ever for exhibitor numbers,” Mr Harley said.
“It’s still growing despite the internet and online sales ... our surveys indicate people still want the tactile experience ... it’s the only place you can see side-by-side, feel, touch, smell, kick competitors’ products.”
It was also the one opportunity in Australia to see the full range of national and international companies’ wares: at other field days you might only get a dealer who generally did not have the full product range on show, he said.
AgQuip is being held from Tuesday to Thursday.
“It’s the perfect platform to launch new product or re-engage existing customers,” Mr Harley said.
“It’s the meeting place of rural Australia.”
Research shows 60 per cent of visitors come from within a 200km radius, while 40 per cent come from between 200-500km and 15 per cent come from outside 500km.