Dowerin dynasty

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Farming runs in the blood of four generations of the Metcalf family, and so too does their town’s machinery field days.

No-one knows the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days better than 90-year-old Lionel John Metcalf. The inaugural president of the machinery showcase event, LJ, as he is better known, chaired the committee for 14 years and has continued his involvement by serving as field days safety officer.

“There weren’t any machinery shows back then, ” he said.

LJ recalls that in the first year — 1964 — there were 20 exhibitors and 2000 people through the gate. Last week, 600 exhibitors and 16,300 visitors turned out.

“I remember buying mowers off the boats. Like many imports, those machines were not suitable for WA’s environment, ” he said.

LJ said developing the field days was necessary to help farmers and machinery dealers become better acquainted.

“Of course, we also were out to help the community with the project, ” he said.

There has been a rapid evolution of farm equipment since the first Dowerin field days.

“I am not a big fan of all the technology gadgets, but the young farmers are, ” LJ said.

LJ’s son, John, has been on the committee for the past 42 years and has been the chief judging marshal for four of those.

“Dowerin is always exciting, not only a place to find the right tools and methodology to do the job right, but it is also a place to catch up with all of your mates, ” John said.

“The exhibits this year were of the standard and progress that has made the field days such a success.”

John and wife Wendy Newman, who is a past field days chief executive, farm with their son Adam and his wife Rochelle, just north of the town.

Adam and Rochelle’s sons, Brody, 3, and Darcy, 4, haven’t missed a Dowerin field days yet.

“And if tradition has anything to do with it, they will most likely be active with the town’s machinery field days just like their great-granddad before,” John said.

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