Australia's network of farm machinery field days are gearing up to return this year despite ongoing fears that new coronavirus outbreaks could shut state borders at a moment's notice.
President of the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia (AAFDA) Daniel Toohey said many machinery field days relied on interstate exhibitors.
Field days committees were rearing to go after last year's mass cancellations because of COVID-19 and had developed approved COVID plans to ensure the safety of large crowds at their events, he said.
"But the big problem is you just don't know when the thing (COVID) is going to pop up. COVID is such a tricky thing, you don't know where you stand with it," he said.
"Every state (government) has got its own vision of where they want to go and how they want to go (in terms of COVID control measures)."
Two field days in Victoria and South Australia scheduled for March were cancelled last August over concerns about border closures.
Organisers of the South East Field Days at Lucindale on SA's Limestone Coast and the Wimmera Machinery Field Days at Longerenong pulled the pin early because their events rely so heavily on interstate exhibitors and visitors.
In some good news the $2.7 million in special funding from the federal government to help farm machinery field days get through the coronavirus emergency is now starting to flow into their depleted coffers up to a maximum of $70,000.
Mr Toohey said the whole field days sector would be buoyed if some of the early field days could be held without any COVID hitches.
The first scheduled machinery field days for the year are Farm World near Lardner in Victoria's Gippsland (March 26-28) and Tocal in the NSW Hunter Valley (April 30-May 2).
Group manager of ACM Events Kate Nugent, who oversees the big AgQuip field days at Gunnedah in north west NSW and FarmFest at Toowoomba on the Darling Downs, said everybody in the sector just wanted to "get back to business".
She said planning for AgQuip (August 17-19) and FarmFest (June 8-10) was underway but with fingers crossed there would be no sudden border closures.
Around 16 per cent of AgQuip's exhibitors came from Victoria, she said.
ACM Events (owned by the publishers of this website) is also organising the inaugural Great Escape Expo in Tamworth on May 1-2 to showcase the latest in the caravan, camping and outdoor sectors.
Meanwhile the Sydney Royal Easter Show is on track for April 1-12 despite the recent cancellation of a number of shows in rural NSW including Nabiac's Wallamba District Show, Wingham, Comboyne, Bowral and Kiama