Field days face virus fears

With the announcement last week that the Eyre Peninsula Field Days have been postponed, president Geoff Bammann has encouraged the public to be patient and careful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

POSTPONED: Geoff Bammann has told people to be patient and careful during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is pictured here at the field days in 2018.

POSTPONED: Geoff Bammann has told people to be patient and careful during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is pictured here at the field days in 2018.

The field days, traditionally scheduled around the second Tuesday in August, have been postponed to September 29 to October 1 this year in a bid to avoid implications of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on non-essential public gatherings.

Mr Bammann said over the years they had never faced a problem quite like this.

"1978 was the first field day on the current site, we didn't have any roads or anything built at that stage and we had a heap of rain only a week or so before so we actually did postpone that for a week but that's it as far as I can recall," he said.

The Eyre Peninsula Field Days began in 1973 when the Apex Club hosted a one day event on a property just outside of Cleve, before it ran again as a two-day event in 1976 on Sims Farm before moving to the current site.

Mr Bammann said the timing of the field days is traditionally in August as it was an ideal time for farmers to consider new equipment or purchases before harvest.

"It's sort of that period where there was a bit of spare time between seeding and harvest, it was the same time that Yorke Peninsula used to have theirs as well," he said.

"A few years down the track YP moved to September and they fit between a couple of field days there, and that's what we've done this time is we've gone into that slot to see if that delay is going to help."

Mr Bammann said the field days committee would reevaluate at the end of May about whether to proceed with the event or cancel it altogether.

He said they would also not consider running it in 2021 due to the clash with the Yorke Peninsula field day event the same year.

"If we cancel it altogether which may yet happen, it's two years down the track before we have another one so we just thought we'd go for the delay and see what develops in that time," he said.

Mr Bammann said so far people and businesses had been supportive of the move to late September and early October, but said there needed to be enough lead time to proceed with the event.

He said generally support for the field days had been unwaivering, with numbers consistently around 20,000 visitors regardless of the weather or other affects like drought, but they would have to see how the new dates worked.

"It's going to be in the school holidays (this year), so whether that affects it in a positive or negative way I'm not sure but its probably not going to make a huge difference," said Mr Bammann.

"We've been through droughts before - I don't think it has a huge impact.

"I think people are quite happy to get out and catch up with friends et cetera.

"Farming is a sort of year by year thing, you take the highs and lows and keep going...drought affects people differently and I guess some people might stay home because of the dry year but others might want to go out because of the dry year."