during the Rural Bachelor of the Year awards presentation, on day 4, of the 49th Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand, Saturday 17 June 2017. Photo: Stephen Barker/Barker Photography. ©NZ National Fieldays Society Inc

It has long been folklore that fixing fences and driving tractors is men’s work. This year the New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays plans on debunking that myth by opening the entry criteria for Fieldays Rural Bachelor, allowing both male and female contestants to enter the competition. A popular fixture of the Fieldays calendar, the new and improved Rural Catch of the Year pits eight talented rural competitors against each other to test their skill both on and off the farm to find one ultimate champion.

During last years competition, the finalists attended rural functions and activities, meeting and spending time with a group of rural women known as Gumboot Girls. However, that will all be changing this year. The changes to the competition recognise the role both men and women play in the agriculture industry and support for the new format has been overwhelming. The basic format of the competition will remain the same, but there won’t be any gender-specific competitions, functions or titles.

Not only are the finalists a catch for any potential love interest but their rural skills and knowledge of agricultural business makes them a catch for any employer.