20 September 2022

Murrumbateman set to field its best - but it needs your help

| Sally Hopman
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Aerial view of field days

For one weekend every October, Murrumbateman bursts at the seams with visitors when the best of the country comes to this tiny village between Canberra and Yass. But with huge crowds tipped this year, after COVID shutdowns, volunteers are needed to help make it happen. Photo: Murrumbateman Field Days.

When the (full) carpark for your event is almost as big as the village that is hosting it, you know you’re on to a good thing.

Such is the case in the tiny village of Murrumbateman, between Canberra and Yass, where for one weekend in October you can easily add a nought to the population of about 3000.

This year will mark the 44th Murrumbateman Field Days event, give or take a year or so when COVID-19 had other ideas, but since that time, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for the community, with benefits such as new bus shelters, school equipment and helping families in need. Help is particularly needed now by families in the region hit hard by the recent flooding.

But for this year’s event on the weekend of 15 and 16 October, organisers have issued a special call-out for help.

With almost all the people power organising the event made up of volunteers, more are needed to join the ranks. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to get everything up and going again, from ensuring the Murrumbateman Recreation Grounds, where the event is held, are spick and span – and safe for animals and humans – to dealing with crowd control to measuring out the size and line-marking of each vendor’s site.

Tractor pull

The Yass Antique Farm Machinery Club’s tractor pull is one of the most popular attractions at the Murrumbateman Field Days. Photo: Murrumbateman Field Days.

Field Days spokeswoman Briony Windsor said the event could not take place without the volunteers, which meant that without them, the hundreds of thousands of dollars it regularly injected into the local community wouldn’t be there.

“Unfortunately, because of COVID we missed the 2020 and 2021 events, that’s why this year is so important to the community,” she said.

“We’re calling out for volunteers who want to help out – the best qualifications they can have would be a sense of community.

“There are lots of different roles for volunteers to fill, both behind the scenes and out in the fields on the day.”

Volunteer roles available this year also include welcoming visitors at the gates and scanning tickets. Families and friends can volunteer to do this as a group and be rostered on so they all work together.

READ ALSO Long-awaited primary school rises up from Murrumbateman site

Other volunteer roles include: directing traffic inside and outside the site, helping to ensure the COVID-safe plan is followed, providing information to visitors and stallholders on where the facilities are, and generally helping to make events run smoothly.

There’s also a special new job for volunteers this year: being the “voice of the Field Days” – helping with site announcements so visitors and competitors know what’s coming up next.

In the next few weeks leading up to the event, volunteers are specifically needed to prepare the site.

For the local branch of the NSW Rural Fire Service, catering for the masses at the Murrumbateman Field Days is one of its main fundraisers for the year. Photo: Murrumbateman Field Days.

“This is the time when we’ll be really getting things moving as we get into September and later into the month with working bees where we’ll really need more volunteers to come in and lend a helping hand,” Briony said.

The Murrumbateman Field Days, which have been held since 1979, are designed to showcase the best of regional Australian produce, with special emphasis on the local area from the Southern Tablelands through to Yass and across to Canberra as well as interstate.

READ ALSO $2.5m Yass Valley flood damage bill tipped to rise

At the most recent Field Days, more than 500 sites were sold, with some vendors travelling from as far as Queensland.

All the popular events would be back this year, Briony said, including the Yass Antique Machinery Club’s tractor pulls; petting zoo; the latest in on-farm technology; woodchopping; local food, wine and craft beer; fashion; demonstrations by craftspeople and artisans; and whip-cracking and stunt riding.

People interested in volunteering for this year’s Murrumbateman Field Days can sign up at the website.

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