From an amateur beginning and the energy of a small band of residents, the annual Murrumbateman Field Days has now grown into a huge attraction for people from near and far.
It all started in 1976 when that small group of residents travelled to the Henty Field Days. All were committed members of MABPA and in July 1979 a Field Days Committee was formed.
At that first Field Days in 1979 there were 27 exhibitors showing mowers, pumps, fencing, small tractors and other vehicles, solar heating and water boring equipment. It was reported that the Small Machinery Field Days attracted 6,000 visitors over the two days.
A member of the original group to visit the Henty Field Days was a recent arrival in the Murrumbateman area, Ken Helm.
While now one of the iconic winemakers in the area, Ken then played an active part in the establishment of the first local Field Days and his was the voice heard on the public address system for a time.
Ken recalled that the first Field Days was marked by dramatic weather, with a hailstorm in the morning which didn’t deter anyone. In future years he said, the Field Days saw floods, droughts and even throughout those natural adversities, the people of Murrumbateman came through.
“None of us dreamed it would become this big, when we had around $1,000 in our pocket we thought we were a big success,” Mr Helm said.
“Today, there is enormous growth in Murrumbateman with all the new people coming into the area and there’s a new community future for the Field Days to embrace. It’s a matter of saying come along and be part of that future.”
Max Carroll was secretary in 1985 and said it was hard to realise that Murrumbateman Field Days have now been going for 40 years.
Ken Helm, he said conned him into doing the job and it was an interesting experience.
He added that the event was gaining momentum even back then in the early days and it was indeed good to know that it was still going strong.
From 6,000 visitors and 27 exhibitors in 1979, last year Murrumbateman Field Days attracted around 22,000 people including more than 500 exhibitors.