THE WIMMERA Machinery Field Days (WMFD), the last of the major agricultural field days to be run prior to the COVID-19 inspired lockdowns, will not be run in 2021.
WMFD manager Murray Wilson said a decision had been made to call off the event, held each year in the first week in March.
"Some may say it might be a bit premature but this is not an event you can just throw together at the last minute and we felt it was fairest for all the crowd and the exhibitors to make the decision early," Mr Wilson said.
He said the event had a substantial interstate component, especially within the exhibitor ranks.
"We went through the exhibitor lists and a lot of years it can be close to a quarter coming from interstate," he said.
"Being an important broadacre region we often get those manufacturers from other big cropping regions, such as Toowoomba on the Darling Downs - we can have up to a dozen exhibitors from that region alone some years."
"With all the uncertainty about cross border movements we just don't think with a big event like this we would be confident enough that everything will fall into place, the last thing we want to do is have to cancel at the last minute when people have already arranged to come here."
Mr Wilson said logistically, the timing of the event meant things had to be organised a long time out.
"Most of our committee and volunteers are from the cropping industry, which means harvest occupies every moment through November and early December and then you run into the Christmas / New Year break and by the time everyone is really back in the swing of things it is only five weeks until the event, so it may seem a long way out but it isn't really."
Mr Wilson said it was disappointing to call off what is the Wimmera's largest community event for the first time in its history of nearly 60 years but said he hoped the field days site, the Wimmera Events Centre would be utilised at some stage in 2021.
"We were looking forward to being the first major ag field days for next year coming off the back of what at this stage is looking to be yet another great farming season for the Wimmera, however it is too risky."
"There's more to the Events Centre than just the field days and hopefully once we have a clearer picture of how things will work we can get that up and running in some form."
He said the loss of the field days would hurt the Wimmera economy, particularly in the hospitality and accommodation sectors.
The WMFD timed its run to perfection in 2020, being held early in March just before the spectre of COVID-19 emerged.
The South East field days, held across the border in SA at Lucindale just a fortnight after the Wimmera event was forced to postpone at the last minute due to the dramatic escalation of restrictions.
Mr Wilson said the focus was now on 2022.
"The WMFD committee will now be looking at making our 2022 better than ever and put in all the COVID safe requirements into action to ensure the event runs smoothly."