Cantabrians flock to the West Coast for AgFest

Greymouth's biannual AgFest field day was busier than ever on Friday, drawing in crowds that would usually be at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch. 

Festival organisers jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of the date knowing it would help provide a boost to the West Coast economy. 

A record number of 25,000 walked through the gates, many of them Cantabrians with a day off to celebrate Anniversary Day.

"Our event has grown by 30 percent for doing that and if you look around today half of Canterbury is here so they've taken the opportunity to get over to the West Coast and have a really good time," says Tracey Anderson, AgFest West Coast event manager.

Meanwhile, in Christchurch at the A&P Showgrounds on what would have been show day it was empty.

The New Zealand Agricultural Show was cancelled this year for the first time since World War Two due to COVID-19, decision organisers didn't take lightly.

"Financially for us if we chose to turn on it's a big operation and we have to make a commitment to our suppliers, our stakeholders and we knew if we had to cancel a week out we wouldn't be able to make those commitments," says Geoff Bone, event director of the New Zealand Agricultural Show.

Although the official show didn't go ahead, some volunteer-lead competitions did take place.

On the West Coast, it's estimated AgFest brings in around $5 million to the local economy.