Rugged, rural fellas wanted for 2017 Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year
Are you a gallant rural gent who is more at home behind the wheel of a tractor than in the backseat of an UBER?
Then you might just have what it takes to be the New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays' Rural Bachelor of the Year.
Eight finalists will be selected for the popular competition, which takes place during Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre from 14 to 17 June. The Rural Bachelor competition is now in its seventh year and entries close at the end of March.
Finalists have their farming skills, attitude and all-round charisma put to the test during a series of rural themed challenges, including fencing, cooking, wood splitting, dog handling and health and safety.
The winner walks away with a prize pack worth more than $20,000 along with the coveted Golden Gumboot trophy.
Last year's Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year, Paul Olsen, said he entered because his mates encouraged him and he had "nothing to lose".
The potato and dry stock farmer from Opiki in Manawatu said the week was full on, exciting and filled with opportunities.
"The socialising and networking opportunities are huge. I met a great bunch of blokes, and ladies, and we still keep in touch," said Olsen.
People's Choice winner, Australian Angus stud farmer Rob Ewing, agreed.
"I thought it'd be a great opportunity to do something I'd never done before, and it turned out to be the best thing I've ever done."
He said it was his "great yarns and practical jokes" that secured him the People's Choice title, but he wasn't out there to win.
"I just thought it would be a chance to meet some new people, see a bit of New Zealand, and meet some lovely Kiwi girls," said Ewing. "And I tell you what, if I lived in New Zealand I'd have a hard time deciding which girl to take out for tea."
Olsen said he's ready to hand over the title.
"My advice for this year's guys is to give it a go, it's a brilliant experience. It really pushes you out of your comfort zone, but in a good way."
He's also technically not a bachelor anymore, having met someone a few months after the competition.
"Yep, I was fortunate enough to meet someone," said Olsen. "She's in the rural industry too – she's pretty awesome. But I'd better not throw her under the bus by saying too much!"
This year's competition kicks off on Monday 12 June with the Farmlands Road Trip. Starting in Auckland, the eight finalists will make their way across Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, visiting rural Farmlands stores on the way and taking part in activities and challenges.
Once Fieldays officially starts on Wednesday 14 June, the finalists will take part in daily challenges with the winner announced at the official prize giving on Saturday 17 June. Two titles are up for grabs again – Rural Bachelor of the Year and People's Choice Award.
NZ National Fieldays Society CEO Peter Nation said the Rural Bachelor competition was a chance for agricultural blokes to showcase their farming skills and love of the industry.
"NZ Agricultural Fieldays is a premier international event that celebrates the best of our rural industry, and with Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year we are looking for someone genuine and hardworking, who personifies that passion and will be a great ambassador for both the competition and New Zealand farming," said Nation.