Event organisers, the New Zealand National Fieldays Society, are pioneering an entirely new experience of Fieldays that will ensure its longevity in an age of social isolation and measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Visitors will get a taste of the event via a virtual experience on digital platforms until the physical event is able to take place.
Following the governmental announcement on Monday 16th of March, to cancel all large gatherings of over 500 people, the Society knew this was an opportunity to adapt the Fieldays event in an innovative way.
The virtual experience promises to offer an entirely new spin on the event whilst retaining all it’s treasured parts. From Fieldays Future Focus talks to the beloved Fieldays Innovation programme, the technology will allow for an immersive experience from the comfort of one’s own home.
“We understand the economic ramifications would be extensive if Fieldays was cancelled entirely hence why we’ve decided it’s a chance to be innovative in this time of global uncertainty. We’ll still be delivering a world class event on the world stage – albeit a digital version,” Society CEO Peter Nation says.
“The event is treasured, not just to the agricultural industry but as Kiwis altogether. Many people save the date a year in advance. We know of people that have never missed a Fieldays!
“The NZ agricultural industry is one of the most innovative and dynamic of its kind in the world. Crises are not new to the primary sector. We had M.Bovis a few years back, droughts, the GFC. These are all things farmers and communities have had to endure and ride through. Uncertainty has paved the way for innovation in times where there was no other choice otherwise.”
Digital visitors’ will be able to pick and choose what they wish to view and at whatever time and pace they wish to do so. The technology will allow for visitors and exhibitors to connect but in a new and exciting way.
“The beauty of a virtual experience is that people can enjoy the elements of Fieldays minus the health risks dictated by the current environment.”
Nation remarked on the feedback following the news that the event was postponed. Although saddened, the overwhelming public response was positive.
“We acted quickly, and we support the governments’ direction on all fronts. From adversity springs opportunity. This is not the end of Fieldays, in fact this is a new season for a new way of planning for an event we’re dedicated to see remain strong in the face of uncertainty.
“Fieldays is our lifeblood. It’s what the Society was built on. Common ground, people who saw an opportunity and found others who captured the vision. In many ways this hasn’t changed in light of the current crisis around the world; we’re still here connecting people together over a common activity, we’ve just had to adapt to how we do this.”
The Society has partnered with Satellite Media to deliver the online event experience. “We started talking about what the future could look like for Fieldays at an early stage, like many, we were devastated to think the event could not go ahead” says Nick Lowe, Managing Director of Satellite Media.
“It’s now an exciting opportunity to re-imagine the great aspects of the traditional Fieldays format. By going online we can increase our reach, provide new ways for people to connect and, as we are discovering, create new benefits for both the exhibitors and visitors. The format allows for all exhibitors, agencies, content producers and suppliers to create opportunity around this new ecosystem and we invite everyone on this journey in the hope of creating jobs and delivering economic benefit. It's really encouraging how fast Kiwi businesses both large and small have jumped at the chance to support NZ’s primary sector at this time” says Lowe.
Fieldays event manager Lee Picken is equally excited. “Fieldays has always been about the community. Despite the shifts in the way we have been able to socialise in the past weeks, we recognise more than ever the importance of connection and coming together again. It might not be in the classical sense yet, but it’s available for everyone until we return to Mystery Creek.”
Nation adds, “Yes, it’s a changing world, but one thing that doesn’t change is the foundation of Fieldays. Adaptability is in our DNA and we’re just rerouting its delivery.”
Fieldays 2019 generated $549M sales revenue for New Zealand businesses and an injection of $249M to the national GDP. Fieldays draws approximately 130,000 visitors every year who come from all walks of life. From farmers taking a day off the farm, catching up with friends and getting some deals to city dwellers experiencing the best of the country community.
Satellite is a digital production company with 20 years of experience delivering technology and live experiences across some of New Zealand’s biggest brands and events. In 2019, Satellite delivered the innovative new ticketing and Explorer Band system for Fieldays.