FIELD days are a feature of country life. They are an opportunity for farmers to see a range of farm machinery in one place and for residents and visitors to experience life in the country, with demonstrations of farm and domestic equipment.
Today the biggest field day in Gippsland is held at Lardner Park in Warragul, but the first field day in Victoria was held in Foster on 6 October 1954. Organised by the then recently formed Foster Young Farmers’ Club, the event took place on the Foster Showgrounds and on Mr Murdie Munro’s neighbouring property in Boundary Road.
The funds for the field day were raised by the sale of a Ford Consul the Young Farmers’ Club had won in a South Gippsland Hospital raffle. The programme was sponsored by Ferguson dealer O.T. Motors.
The timing of the field day was significant. Industries were getting back to peacetime mode after World War II and new inventions and technologies were being adopted in the agricultural world. A new generation of farmers was ready to adopt new ideas and methods.
The machinery displayed and demonstrated included:
- Fifteen tractors of eight different makes;
- Twenty cultivating implements from eight different firms;
- Three types of spray irrigation plants;
- Newly invented scrub clearing equipment – rotary slashers and the Big Arthur slasher;
- Various kinds of pasture improvement, harvesting and conservation equipment machinery
- A wide range of dairy machinery, shearing plants, engines, pumps, windmills, saws and lighting plants.
The local manager of the SEC organised special illumination for the showgrounds and arranged demonstrations and advice on the use of the new electrical appliances for the home.
A Tiger Moth aircraft flown by wartime ace Aussie Miller for Super Spread Aviation Pty Ltd demonstrated how aerial agriculture (then in its infancy) could operate in tight conditions.
Over 2000 people attended the historic event. The field day was considered a great success by participants and spectators, so much so that it was repeated in October 1955 when even bigger crowds attended.
Foster’s Mirror reported on 13 October 1954 “ the field day…..had exceeded the hopes of even its most enthusiastic young organisers….” reflecting great credit on the organising secretary, Trevor Langstrom and the club’s President, John Ramsden. One visitor remarked “The Young Farmers’ Club of yours is doing much to put Foster right on the map.”
An information panel recording the history of the field day has been placed on the wall of the main stand at the Foster showgrounds, close to the original rooms of the Young Farmers’ Club. It will be unveiled at 3pm on Thursday 26 February, just days before this year’s Foster Show. All members of the Young Farmers’ Club are welcome to attend.
Foster and District Historical Society meets at the museum at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of each month. Details of the meetings and other activities can be found on www.promcountryhistory.org.au.