The past two years have been a rocky road for Australia's embattled field days industry.
These events bolster the economy of rural and regional communities and collectively generate more than $1 billion in sales for exhibitors each year.
But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, these events were not included in a federal government program to provide funding for agricultural shows.
Field days are now eligible under round two of the program but it served as a wake up call to organisers about the lack of understanding about the value of these events.
As a result, the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia is launching Field Days Awareness Week.
Running from February 7 to 11, Field Days Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of these events and launch the 2022 events calendar.
AAFDA chairman Bruce Wright said there was often a lack of understanding from governments about the significant role of field days and what goes into successfully delivering these events.
Mr Wright said it takes six to 12 months to put together an event and greater consistency from governments would help give organisers and exhibitors the confidence they need to proceed with planning.
"We are totally committed to putting on safe, healthy events but the goal posts keep changing," Mr Wright said.
"All we want is a chance to do what we do best; we're not after massive favours, we just want to have a fair crack."
At Lucindale in South Australia, the organising committee is ploughing ahead with plans for the South East Field Days on March 17 and 18.
General interest steward and advertising and publicity officer Kim Corrigan said the committee was busy working through the legalities and regulations required to hold an event.
"It's a little bit different than normal obviously with all the COVID regulations in place but we're getting there," she said.
"We are probably on track to where we normally are as far as our organisation goes."
The South East Field Days was one of the first events to fall when the pandemic reached Australian shores in early 2020.
Ms Corrigan said they cancelled just five days out from the field day's start date.
"We had trucks sitting in depots in the capital cities waiting to see what was going to happen," she said.
"We had to make that decision to pull the pin the week of the field days.
"It was a massive financial loss, we lost $150,000 that year, and it was pretty traumatic for everyone involved."
The committee hoped things would be better for the 2021 event but it wasn't and the call was made to cancel it about six months beforehand.
"We've got our fingers crossed for this year," Ms Corrigan said.
"There's so much uncertainty in the world, you don't know what's happening tomorrow let alone six months down the track.
"You've got to try and drag yourself back form two cancellations, try to keep going, and hope that 2023 will be back to normal."
It has also been a tough road for ACM Rural Events, which organises AgQuip at Gunnedah, NSW.
They too had to cancel the 2020 event. Plans were made to proceed in 2021, then rescheduled, and ultimately cancelled.
However, ACM Rural Events was able to host another of its events in 2021, the FarmFest field days on the outskirts of Toowoomba, Queensland.
ACM Rural Events general manager Kate Nugent said field days were an important source of economic, social and cultural stimulation for rural and regional communities.
"We are highly supportive of Field Days Awareness Week as we all share that responsibility to raise our field day flag because of the fact we had been forgotten and we had not been considered," she said.
"For many of our field days, we add tens of millions of dollars to local economies, let alone what we inject into the Australian agricultural industry.
"We appreciate the Australian agricultural industry has seen some buoyant seasons and some of us have been a part of it and some of us haven't."
Ms Nugent said while 2022 would still be hard for event organisers, the industry was resilient and remained passionate about hosting safe events for its communities.
More than 40 field days are scheduled to take place across Australia and New Zealand in 2022. For the full list visit of events, visit www.aafda.com.au
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