THIS week all roads should 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.
- Henty Machinery Field Days are not on for 2020, but it doesn't mean you miss out on 'seeing' the exhibitors. View more than 80 exhibitors in a virtual guide of the field days in an ACM special publication - Henty Machinery Field Days: To the Past, Present and Future.
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 quickly 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.
There were two PTO headers - an International A8-4 and Massey Ferguson 585 (with the grey wheels) - and a self-propelled CLAAS on display.
The CLAAS header from Alfarm almost didn't make it - Alfarm co-principal Arthur Holloway drove it out from Albury, finally arriving at 4.30pm. Surprisingly, the crowd waited patiently for its arrival.
"People stayed as auto headers were a novelty,'' organiser Milton Taylor said.
"Arthur drove the header in tight circles at high speed to show it wouldn't tip over. "We decided then the best field day was to have the machines actually giving working demonstrations.
Farmers had voted with their feet, turning 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.
Mr Thomas 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 fully demonstrative event in 1965 on "The Ranch".
They were run under the auspices of the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association - the forerunner to the NSW Farmers Association.
- The Henty Machinery Field Days will return September 22-23, 2021. Find out more by visiting www.hmfd.com.au.