Rising to the challenge

Ann RawlingsCountryman
Newdegate Machinery Field Days president Craig Newman.
Camera IconNewdegate Machinery Field Days president Craig Newman. Credit: Cally Dupe

Like many in his district, Varley farmer Craig Newman has been a familiar face among the machinery exhibits and trade stalls that make up the Newdegate Machinery Field Days.

Not only has Mr Newman talked the talk, he’s walked the walk, both as a volunteer and as a longstanding member of the event’s committee.

But come the first week of September, he will take on another challenge — that of president of the Great Southern’s biggest annual agricultural showcase.

The grain grower and sheep producer runs a 10,000ha operation alongside his wife, Anna-Lisa, in the Varley area.

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Merinos are their main game, with the sheep side of the business boasting 6000 mated ewes this year, while their farm mainly hosts crops of barley and oats.

Pastures of serradella and biserrula round out their program.

Mr Newman, the son of well-known Newdegate Field Days advocate and CBH chairman Wally Newman, said he was proud to stand as president for the next four events.

“It is a good challenge and the event is good for the whole of the area, not just our own community,” he said.

“It’s also good for industry.”

While his previous field days job included setting up and packing down the fashion parade stage in the Family Interest Display Pavilion, this year he will aim to be more of an all-rounder on site.

“It’s funny, for myself and two others, our main job has been (to set up) the fashion parade stage,” he said.

“I have no idea how we ended up there, but it was a good place.

“But this year, my focus is going to be on making sure we have a good connection with our exhibitors and that we are providing a platform for them to connect with their customers — that is what the field days are for.”

Speaking from experience, Mr Newman said one of the most enjoyable parts of the Newdegate Field Days could be found in the days leading up to the event.

“I enjoy getting everything ready and catching up with local people from the area, because you are all in there doing the job together,” he said.

Also on the cards this year is a celebration of more than just machinery.

The event’s theme, Emergency Services in the Bush, plays tribute to the countless locals who care for the district.

While the area’s volunteer firefighters and ambulance officers, and local police, are often the first on the scene in times of crisis, they also play a role in supporting activities around town, including sporting events and, importantly, the local field days.

The Newdegate Field Days is on September 4-5, with exhibitor places now available.

Visit nfday.com.au for more information.

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