FOSTER Showgrounds was the venue 50 years ago of the first field day in Victoria. That historic occasion has now been marked by the erection of an information panel on the outside wall of the room behind the main stand where the Young Farmers’ Club used to meet. It was the recently formed Foster Young Farmers Club which organised the field day on 6 October 1954.
The information panel was prepared by members of Foster & District Historical Society at the suggestion of Trevor Langstrom, who was instrumental in organising that first field day and felt it was worthy of commemoration in some way. It was unveiled last Thursday, in front of members of the historical society and a handful of former Young Farmers, by Bill Davies, a member of the historical society and himself a former Foster Young Farmer.
On behalf of the historical society, Mr Davies thanked Cr Mohya Davies of South Gippsland Shire Council for allocating funds from her Councillor Discretionary Fund towards the information panel. He also thanked historical society members Howard Plowright and Richard Jones for preparing this and other information boards in the Foster area, and Harry Kemper (himself a one-time Young Farmer) for drilling the wall to erect the information board.
Above all, Mr Davies said that recognition was due to Trevor Langstrom (who was unfortunately unable to attend the unveiling) for organising the inaugural field day at Foster and lobbying in recent years for a commemorative plaque.
As the information panel explains, the field day took place on the Foster showgrounds and on Mr Murdie Munro’s neighbouring property in Boundary Road. The funds for the day were raised by the sale of a Ford Consul the Young Farmers’ Club had won in a South Gippsland Hospital raffle. The program was sponsored by Ferguson dealer O.T. Motors. John Taylor, whose family once ran O.T. Motors, recalled taking the day off school as a teenager to take photographs at the field day. These photographs have been reproduced on the commemorative board.
Murdie Munro’s son Ross said that a highlight of the field day for him was the sight of a Tiger Moth aircraft flown by wartime ace Aussie Miller for Super Spread Aviation demonstrating how aerial agriculture could operate in tight conditions.
More than 2000 people attended the field day. Foster’s Mirror reported that “the field day…had exceeded the hopes of even its most enthusiastic young organisers”. One visitor remarked, “The Young Farmers’ Club of yours is doing much to put Foster right on the map.”
The field day was 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. It was considered a great success by participants and spectators, so much so that it was repeated in October 1955, when even bigger crowds attended. Other rural centres took up the idea, with field days springing up all over Victoria, although interest in the Foster area waned. Today the biggest field day in Gippsland is held at Lardner Park in Warragul.