NEW HOME: The Mildura Racecourse has been named the new home for the Mildura Field Days, with Mildura Racing Club manager, Jarratt Farley, and Mildura Field Days co-ordinator, Jo Rodda, making the announcement this week. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By VINNIE RODI

A NEW era awaits the popular Mildura Field Days event in 2019, with a change of venue on the cards for the 68th edition.

Mildura Field Days co-ordinator, Jo Rodda, this week confirmed that the Mildura Field Days would be staged at the Mildura Racecourse in 2019, after a near two-decade association with Sunraysia Institute of TAFE came to a recent end.

Ms Rodda said relocating the Field Days to a site that could accommodate further growth, and one that would improve the experiences of patrons, had long been on the cards.

“At midday on the first day of the 2018 Field Days, the site was full, you couldn’t get a park at the rear of the site,” she said. “It was important for us to keep expanding the Field Days – as we have done for the past four years… and the opportunity arose to move to the Mildura Racecourse, and it was one that was too good to pass up.”

The decision to make the move to the Mildura Racecourse has only eventuated in the past two weeks, however, Ms Rodda said that organisers had been hunting for a new site for the past two years. 

“Finding a new site has been part of our long-term strategy,” she said. “The grassed facilities here, and the capacity to expand, is something that is very attractive to the committee.

“I think it’s exciting, and the beginning of a new era. Hopefully we’re a good fit with the Mildura Racing Club, and they are very keen to work with us to ensure the event is a success.”

Ms Rodda said the decision to move to a new site was also an economic one.

“Here at the Mildura Racecourse, we have a number of infrastructure facilities available to us that we don’t have to bring in,” she said. “It cost us over $100,000 to host the event at SuniTAFE field this year, so we’re hoping we can reduce the cost associated.

“There’s a number of factors associated with the move.”

Ms Rodda said the Field Days had undergone an incredible transformation over the past decade, including a re-brand of the group’s logo seven years ago, while also adopting “a changed focus.”

“We went from being primarily focused on dried fruits to ensuring we could incorporate other industries, and our growth has continued since then,” she said. “The focus for me has been on families, because if we don’t introduce children to farming, we don’t have a farming future.

“It’s a demographic that possibly wasn’t well catered for previously… if you want to get mums and kids there, you have to give them something to look at.”

Over the past six-plus decades, the Mildura Field Days has grown into one of the more popular events on the region’s calendar, while also injecting valuable dollars into the local economy, and providing farming, machinery and technological businesses – to name just a few – a chance to showcase their wares.

Attracting exhibitors from across the country, the past few years has seen the Mildura Field Days transform into a family-friendly event, with the aim to offer something for everyone while staying true to its agricultural roots.

“This year marked our most successful Mildura Field Days ever,” Ms Rodda said. “We had to extend the fence by 30 metres… the number of exhibitors and visitors we bring to town is significant.”

Mildura Racing Club manager, Jarratt Farley, said the group was excited to partner with the Field Days.

“We’re hoping this will lead to a long-term partnership, and we’re excited to be the home of the 2019 Mildura Field Days,” he said. “For us it’s an opportunity for those people who may not know much about us and our facilities to see first-hand what we can offer.

“We believe this is an under-utilised facility, and we’re looking forward to what opportunities this partnership may bring.”

The 2019 Mildura Field Days will take place on May 17 and 18, 2019, with those people interested in volunteering encouraged to contact Ms Rodda on 0487 021 122. 

The 2019 Mildura Field Days prospectus is also scheduled to be released by the end of November, with applications for exhibitions to be taken following that release.