IN its 40 years of operation, AgQuip has emerged as a hugely popular attraction that has promoted the region just as successfully as it has agriculture.
This year’s event attracted over 650 exhibitors, some of which have been there since the beginning.
Stephen John, of Peel Valley Machinery and John Deere, has been making the trek from Tamworth to Gunnedah for 30 years.
“We have been involved as an exhibitor since the beginning in different forms and there’s been a lot of change in that time,” Mr John said.
“This year has actually been pretty good, especially considering the state of the economy at the moment, so we are really happy. We have had a lot of traffic through our display. There has been a constant steady stream of people.
“The gates open at 9am and it takes about an hour for the bulk of those arriving to get going but then we are flat out until about 2pm.”
He said although they rarely make a sale during the three days, the amount of interest AgQuip generates boosts their sales in the 12 months that follow, which is the main reason they have been involved for so long.
The NSW Braford Association hass been serving their delectable steak sandwiches since the early days.
Association member and long-time AgQuip attendee Helen Hunt – who has been working in the stall for more than a decade – said since she has been involved, she has seen plenty of change. Well, at least as much as she can from behind the counter.
“I think the Braford Association has been coming since the beginning of AgQuip but it’s been so long that no one can actually remember the dates,” Mrs Hunt said.
“I don’t get to see much of it ... but it has become much bigger, with much bigger equipment.
“When I was first coming here, it was purely farming oriented but I believe there is a shopping arcade here now, with ordinary stuff in it.”
Mrs Hunt – who lives west of Coonabarabran and makes the trek to and from home during the three days of AgQuip – visited the site back in June and said you wouldn’t have believed the field days were to start in a couple of months.
“I came here in June to look at our site and it fascinated me how it all looked back then. Itlooked a bit derelict and abandoned. As we have come back, it’s been interesting to see it reform.”
Veteran exhibitor Tom Plunkett from Brisbane’s Superior Equipment, attended his first field days 39 years ago.
He said since then, big improvements had been made for exhibitors and especially those, like himself, who had large machinery on site.
“There has been a big improvement in facilities and on the way they handle the amount of people coming in and out. The layout and block design is much better, especially for those with large machinery. There is also better traffic control,” Mr Plunkett said.
“As it’s gotten more popular they have had to adjust.”
Mr Plunkett said the lack of accommodation was still an issue but they were lucky enough to be staying with a local family.
He said the growth in popularity over the years had been amazing and the movement from just being an agricultural exhibition to something that included items for everyone had been one of the biggest changes over the four decades.
“There’s now something for everyone, and everyone loves coming – the kids, parents, grandparents and farmers.
“Serious buyers come with their shopping lists, ute and trailer, looking for a specific need ... but there are also impulse buyers now – it’s not just machinery and it now caters for all of these different people.”