When the annual Commonwealth Bank AgQuip farm equipment show rolls around each August, the small city of Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia (where the event is held) gets inundated with visitors from virtually every region of the country, not to mention foreign visitors.
In fact, the demand for hotel accommodations becomes far greater than what’s available in the city of about 8,000 people and surrounding communities. To help with the problem, the Gunnedah tourism department sets up additional campsites and co-ordinates a home-stay program, encouraging local residents to put up show goers for a few nights. Organizers of the event estimate roughly 100,000 people walk through the AgQuip gates each year, although admission is free and no one has an exact count.
“Those people come from all across Australia,” says Kate Nugent, group manager for Fairfax Rural Events, which runs the show. “We have many delegations that come from China and the United States.”
The 64 acre outdoor site with roughly 3,000 exhibitors and organizations jammed into it is what attracts the crowds. Vehicle traffic around the show grounds is so high that local authorities have to implement some road sign changes and provide traffic control along the local highway on each of the three days of the event.
On the grounds, loudspeakers broadcast music and commentary from the show’s own temporary radio station.
“AgQuip started in 1973 and it’s one of the longest-running major field days in Australia,” Nugent continues. “It’s been very successful in securing all national agricultural companies, and these days we also have participation from overseas agricultural companies, too.”
That blend is evident on the show grounds, where there is an interesting mix of Australian-, European- and North American-built equipment and vehicles. Included in that blend this year were examples of three different brands of Canadian-built seeding equipment. Some of those machines, however, get modified to conform to local practices.
For example, the Morris display included an air cart with a smaller product tank that left part of the frame open to accept a liquid N tank, a popular Australian option. And the cart beside it had its front axle modified to match the three metre track width often used in controlled traffic farming.
The Seed Hawk display included an example of the brand’s compact 30 Series seeder, which is popular in Australia because of its ability to fold up to a three metre transport width. The maximum on-road dimensions for agricultural equipment are much less generous in that country than Canada. According to most I spoke with at the show, those transport rules are strictly enforced.
As Nugent describes it, the intention of show organizers is to create a “supermarket environment” at AgQuip where marketers and farmers can interact, discuss machinery and make deals.
“We have many, many exhibitors who’ve been with us for many years and say this (show) is a very important part of their marketing plan,” she adds. “It’s very far ranging from tools to tires to tractors… It covers the whole gambit of Australian products that are built for Australian conditions.”
The event also has a strong attraction to urban residents, some of whom travel long distances to come and spend a day on the show grounds taking in the sights.
“We also promote the event as an opportunity to see Australia’s finest agricultural on show,” she adds. “And we have lots of families that come to this event. It is a big day out. Even though you might not be a primary producer, a grazier or a farmer, it’s still that chance to come out and see what happens in rural Australia.”
Then, of course, there is the opportunity to enjoy what is touted by organizers as the best steak sandwiches you’ll find anywhere. All the major beef breed organizations serve them at their exhibits and provide tables and chairs to eat at alongside pens of award winning cattle.
Want to see more from Australia’s AgQuip show? Visit eQuipTV for a host of videos from down under.