Southern Field Days Cancellation

2 Nov 2021

Southern Field Days has cancelled its event planned for February 2022 because of Covid-19 and businesses are already starting to count the cost.

It is the first time in 40 years that the event has been cancelled.

Southern field days committee chairman Warren Ross said it reached a point where a call needed to be made to ensure they did not take a large financial hit.

If they had gone ahead with some expenses and the event did not go ahead it could have been crippling financially, he said.

The committee also wanted to make the decision early to allow exhibitors, volunteer groups and local businesses to plan for other opportunities.

For some non-profit groups the field days was their sole fundraiser, and Ross felt for them, along with the likes of the accommodation providers.

The committee felt running a large event with visitors from around New Zealand would bring too much risk to the community, and it would also be difficult to comply with Government regulations under the traffic light system if there were a sudden change in circumstances.

”It wasn’t a decision we took lightly, but it was still the best call,” Ross said.

The field days is a significant event to the Southland economy and farming trade sector and attracts hundreds of stallholders and thousands of people to the three-day event.

The committee is planning to hold the event again in February 2024.

Exhibitors that had paid a deposit to lock in a site would get a full refund, or could roll the deposit over to 2024.

Mataura Licensing Trust general manager Mark Paterson said the cancellation of field days would have a big impact on its business operations.

He wasn’t able to put a monetary figure on it but said the revenue generated from the field days every second year was easily its biggest period.

“It’s pretty devastating to be honest. It’s massive for us, it is that big for us to be fair,” Paterson said.

While disappointed, Paterson understood why the decision was made

“To organise something like that is massive and from my perspective I can understand you need to go early to give everyone some clarity.”

Gore district mayor Tracy Hicks said the cancellation was ”really sad news.”

“I can’t put a dollar figure on it but it’s probably the biggest event we have in the district by a long way and when you have thousands of people coming to town then that must have an effect on businesses in the area.”

The cancellation of the field days comes days after another significant event to be held in February, the Burt Munro Challenge, was also cancelled.

Organisers estimated the loss of $1 million to Southland’s economy on the back of the Burt Munro Challenge’s cancellation alone.

Invercargill Licensing Trust chief executive Chris Ramsay said the loss of the province’s two marquee events – Field Days and Burt Munro Challenge – would have significant impact on many businesses.

“We go from sold out, to now having to try refill rooms. So the region as a whole will get smacked pretty hard.”

“I do empathise with event organisers because it’s hard to plan when you don’t know what it is in front of you, but decisions like this do have a massive economic impact on the entire region.”

Invercargill is scheduled to host the 2022 South Island Colgate Games from January 14 to 16, but that too is now in doubt.

The event is expected to bring about 800 seven to 14-year-old competitors to the city, as well as a large number of parents and grandparents.

Ramsay said the event loomed as a good one for business given the high demand for its motel accommodation at what was traditionally a quiet time

here was also the food and beverage spend that come with these events in Southland, Ramsay said.

Losing the Colgate Games would be another significant blow, he said.

Athletics Southland chairman Chris Knight said a decision was expected to be made on the Colgate Games some time this week.

Since May Athletics Southland has been busy organising it, although it is an Athletics New Zealand event and it will be the national body which will ultimately make the call whether to go ahead or not.

Knight acknowledged it was a significant event for the city in terms of spin-offs for accommodation providers and others in Invercargill.

ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt expected a call would be made on Tuesday in regard to the National Basketball League’s 3×3 tournament set to be played in Invercargill next month.


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