WEDGED in between two blasts of cold, wet and windy weather last week; this year’s South Gippsland Dairy Expo came up smiling after basking in the only two sunny days we’ve seen in what seems like months And with local farmers still unable to get out on their saturated paddocks and start their silage runs, there was little else for them to do but come to the expo. As a result, the gate was up 10 per cent on last year with numbers visiting the event, especially on Thursday, at near record levels. “It may well have been our biggest crowd,” said a delighted Deanne Kennedy of Jaydee Events Pty Ltd, which assists the Lions Club of Strzelecki with the organisation of the annual event, now in its 13th year. “We did have a big one early on when we were at Poowong but I’d say this was probably the biggest. “It was just great to have some nice weather. The only other time it didn’t rain for the expo was in the middle of the drought and everyone was out trying to do their silage, so we didn’t get much of a crowd. “This time we got the good weather but it’s still too wet to do silage so they came in to see the expo which was great. “We got some really good feedback from the exhibitors and many of them said they’ll be back again next year. “It was a lot easier to get things going this year. Most of the exhibitors knew where they were located from last year so the set-up ran a lot more smoothly. “We also had a lot of late interest this year and we were able to accommodate most of that.” Ms Kennedy said she was especially pleased with the standard of the sites and the fact that a lot of the exhibitors went out of their way to bring new products and services to the expo this year to discuss with their clients. “There were some excellent sites but I thought the Hico one was particularly good. We don’t do awards because it puts added pressure on site holders but I did give them a bottle of wine in recognition of the effort they’d put in.” It was noticeable that many of the dairy farmers and other visitors also brought their children along as a school holiday activity and while the focus will continue to be on milk harvesting and services to the dairy industry, Ms Kennedy said there was scope to add to the attractions for children in the future. The two ‘more than a handful’ milking competitions on Wednesday (the milk companies) and Thursday (the agri-bankers) attracted interest with Dale Lang of UDP winning the milk companies final from Selwyn Whitsed of Bega Cheese and Suzanne Lee of Burra Foods while Brian Gannon of NAB won the bankers event.