By Romy Stephens
Fifty years ago, the Wandin Silvan Field Days festival came to life for the first time.
Always a popular event among locals, it originally hosted a small number of tractors and farm machinery with a couple of white tents scattered throughout a single oval.
Gruyere farmer Peter Burgi is one of two people still around that attended the first festival in 1969.
He recalled a different scene from what visitors will see at the festival today.
“It was just a circle of exhibitors around the East Wandin Cricket Ground,” he said.
“It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.
“It was primarily designed to show off the new equipment that was available, more of a machinery field day.”
The event originally started as a means for people to source information and network with others in the industry.
“When we first started there was no internet and no mobile phones so you had to work to get your information,” Mr Burgi said.
“You could come along to the field days and talk to the people that were selling things and compare them on the site.”
Wind the clock forward to today and the festival has grown into a much larger event, not only for the agriculture and horticulture industry but also other types of businesses and even families.
“It’s changed from purely a farmers’ day to cater for women and children and for people that don’t have the interest in farming,” Mr Burgi said.
This year the festival is back to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary.
Upon arrival at this year’s event, visitors will still notice the distinct horticultural and farm machinery theme that has become key to the festival.
A wide range of exhibitors will attend from across the country to display farm machinery, light industrial equipment, motor vehicles, irrigation equipment and water tanks, plus information on the latest pest and weed control, fertilisers and chemicals.
Those attending will not only see the latest in farm machinery, technology and related services but also have the chance to network with others in the industry.
Meanwhile, it’s expected some of the old machinery and former exhibitors and committee members will attend to help celebrate the special milestone.
But the event is not just for those who are interested in agriculture and horticulture – organisers said there would also be plenty for the entire family to do.
The Information and Lifestyle Pavillion will host special interest exhibitors selling a range of different things such as food, wine, craft, nursery produce, clothing, jewellery and much more.
The Heritage Draught Horse Club will attend to display and promote the use of draught horses in bygone days.
Children won’t be left to twiddle their thumbs, with a pet show, snake pit, pony rides and an animal nursery among the activities to keep them entertained.
As much as the festival has changed over the years, Mr Burgi said it was a big achievement to have kept the social aspect of the event going for such a long time.
“Fifty years in life is a bit of a milestone. To be able to run it for 50 years continually is a pretty fair effort,” he said.
“(I enjoy) meeting people that you don’t see on a regular basis…talking to the exhibitors that you’ve probably known for many years.
“I’ve made some very good friends over the years.”
The Wandin Silvan Field Days will be held on 11 and 12 October at the Wandin East Recreation Reserve in Wandin East.