Henty Machinery Field Days are gearing up for a big return in 2021 as it turns the big 6-0

Veterans of the 1961 header school at Henty pictured in 2013 (from left) Laurie Sone, Barry Scholz, the late Colin Wood, Kerry Pietsch, Len Schilg, (front) Neville Male, Milton Taylor and Max Hogg. Photo: Kim Woods
Veterans of the 1961 header school at Henty pictured in 2013 (from left) Laurie Sone, Barry Scholz, the late Colin Wood, Kerry Pietsch, Len Schilg, (front) Neville Male, Milton Taylor and Max Hogg. Photo: Kim Woods

THIS week all roads should have been leading to Henty, but COVID-19 has forced the agricultural institution to cancel for just the third time in its history.

Despite this, the eyes of the Henty Co-operative are now firmly fixed on 2021, as it looks to celebrate 60 years of the header school generating the world-class event.

Over the decades, the not-for-profit cooperative has garnered a reputation for kick starting the last quarter of the agricultural calendar in southern NSW and northern Victoria.

Located midway between Wagga Wagga and Albury-Wodonga, Henty sits in mixed farming heartland. The co-operative's board, drawn from local farmers, has never lost sight of the primary reason for its existence - to serve the agricultural industry.

Mainstream machinery field days like Henty provide direct access to the hearts, minds and wallets of the market place.

Back in 1961, Henty farmers were feeling the pressure in the run up to the harvest. Local silo agents for the Grain Elevators Board had announced wheat deliveries containing more than five per cent foreign matter would not be accepted.

In a buyers market, there was little call for wheat contaminated with cracked grain, thistles or weed seeds.

A prime cause of cracked grain had been running the augers at either a high speed or half empty. The issue was the hot topic at the October meeting of the Henty branch of the Farmers and Settlers' Association.

With harvest due to start within the month, branch president Milton Taylor suggested to the Department of Agriculture a field day on header settings be held at Henty.

Invitations were issued to all firms handling headers - three replied they could make it. The display in November at the Henty showground by representatives from MasseyFerguson, International Harvester Company, and Alfarm (agents for Claas headers) was supplemented by South Australian firm, Alf Hannaford & Co Ltd, with a screen for removing small and cracked grain.

Farmers turned up in force, encouraging the organising committee to repeat the event again in 1962.

Culcairn farmer Eddie Thomas stepped in to the position of chairman of the newly formed Henty Machinery Field Days committee for the first official event in October, 1963 at the Henty showground. He was supported by joint secretaries Milton Taylor and George Poile, of Wagga Wagga.

Brothers Bill and Peter Paech offered to host the field day on their Henty property, "The Ranch'' in 1964 but rain resulted in a hurried relocation to the Henty showground. The success of 1963 and 1964 spurred on the committee to consolidate the field day into a two-day event in 1965.

This story Henty celebrates 60 years first appeared on The Young Witness.