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Expo feedback ‘is good to hear’

Sue Wilson has been the manager of the East Coast Farming Expo for five years now, alongside Expo Director Dave Martin, and she said she has always enjoyed hearing the positive feedback about the expo's success stories.

The Expo will be staged on February 26 and 27, as usual at the Wairoa A and P Showgrounds.

“Each year comes with its own rewards and challenges, but I always enjoy hearing feedback about the success stories,” Mrs Wilson said.

“One thing I hear a lot is how surprised farmers are at the variety of people they meet, the contacts they make and the positive impact this has on their business.

“We've said from the beginning, the Expo is about finding solutions to help farmers farm smarter and I believe we are achieving this.”

She said the presentations were always a big hit.

“The people who attend are really invested in what they do.

“During the talks they listen intently and engage in question time. It's really great to see.

“We've also had an amazing array of exhibitors, from survey drones to electric bikes to the latest smartphone farming apps.”

The evening muster is extremely popular and always sells out.

She was asked if the Expo had developed the way she and Dave Martin had planned?

“From the very beginning we've aimed for slow and steady, and we've achieved this with year-on-year growth.

“The only real surprise has been how unkind Mother Nature was to us on a couple of occasions, but as farmers we're prepared for this.

“Rather than deter people, the wet weather proved just how committed people are to what we're doing.”

The new layout worked well in 2019 — with a centralised hub so farmers could listen to a seminar then pop out to talk to exhibitors during the break, she said.

“We've been fine-tuning the Expo with every passing year, and we're proud with the result.

“The East Coast Farming Expo is a specialised event for farmers and their teams, designed specifically for the farming conditions of Hawke's Bay and the East Coast.”

The theme this year at the Bayleys Evening Muster panel discussion will be about how rural communities are changing.

“Farming is such an ancient way of life. People have been working the land since dot, but this doesn't mean that agriculture shouldn't benefit from modern technologies,” Mrs Wilson said.

“It's about finding new ways to keep operating in small communities when some of the services close because of the rural decline.”

She said they were really looking forward to welcoming back the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O'Connor.

“It will be his second visit. He's also the Minister for Rural Communities, so he brings with him a wealth of knowledge.

“In 2018 there was a great question time session with some enthusiastic discussion.”

The new trade exhibitors on board this year include Future Post who won the innovation award at the 2019 National Fieldays Awards.

Mrs Wilson has a simple message.

“Well, the Expo is not just for farmers, it's for anyone who's involved in the land.

“It's a great day off the farm and there's plenty to see and do.”

As for the future?

“To keep doing what we're doing.

“The first few years of any new enterprise are always the hardest, so we're keen to push on and keep growing the event.

“Feedback from farmers and the business community is positive and they see the value-add in what we're doing.

“I'm looking forward to the next five years!”

Tickets to individual events will be available online in February.

“You'll also be able to download your free Expo tickets online, or pay $10 at the gate.”

World of Farming: According to Sue Wilson, the East Coast Farming Expo is a specialised event for farmers and their teams, designed specifically for the farming conditions of Hawke’s Bay and the East Coast. Picture supplied