Finding love at Fieldays: Rural Bachelor winner gets the Golden Gumboot, and the girl
When Mike Short entered the 2009 Fieldays Rural Bachelor competition on a whim, he never dreamed his life would change so dramatically.
Fast forward four years and the Golden Gumboot winner was sitting on hay bales on the back of a Ute having his wedding photos taken with his new wife Ryley, who he first met at Fieldays.
Many people find the latest agricultural products at Fieldays, but Mike and Ryley Short (nee McGougan) found love.
Mike and Ryley's story has been made into a short film, part of a new documentary box set, Fieldays Stories, available on TVNZ OnDemand. The box set of five short films, created to mark the 50th anniversary of Fieldays, captures the stories of people from around New Zealand and the impact that Fieldays has had on their lives.
Mike says that he never planned to enter the Fieldays Rural Bachelor competition.
“It was a pretty intense environment, living in the same house with seven other guys you don’t know, competing all day, having functions every night, and not sleeping much before waking up at early to compete again," says Mike, who was then aged 26. “We worked long days farming but being in the public all day is really tiring."
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Mike’s wife-to-be, Ryley McGougan, was working for Mystery Creek as an Events Coordinator for the VIP function center.
“I remember seeing him compete on a number of different things, but I was pretty busy working,” says Ryley who was then aged 22.
Shortly after winning the title, Mike told reporters he had no idea what his ideal woman would be like and would “just have to wait until I meet the one”. He returned to Feilding, not realising he'd already met her.
A year later, the stars aligned and the two met again at the 2010 Fieldays event. As reigning Golden Gumboot champion, Mike, still a bachelor, was invited back to judge the 2010 Fieldays Rural Bachelor competition.
Four years later on a sunny March day (albeit amid a drought), the two were married at Ryley’s parents dairy farm in Gordonton.
The Shorts are now farming west of Feilding on their 105-hectare, 200-cow dairy farm. They have two young children, Laney, 3, and Hudson, 1.
This June, for the 50th anniversary of Fieldays, the Short family will be making their way to Mystery Creek. The family are VIP guests of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society.
The Shorts’ story will debut as a 30-second television commercial during Hyundai Country Calendar on TVNZ 1 this Sunday May 20 from 7pm. A longer version of Mike and Ryley's story is available in the new documentary box set Fieldays Stories, created by TVNZ Blacksand and available on TVNZ OnDemand (TVNZ.co.nz).
For more information about Fieldays 2018 see www.fieldays.co.nz