‘Of the people, by the people, for the people’: ag show gala

Queensland Ag Shows gala dinner rewards unsung heroes


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The 2019 Queensland Ag Shows gala dinner showcased the talent and innovation happening despite the turmoil facing rural Queenslanders.

The grassroots relevance of agricultural shows in times of uncertainty in rural life was emphasised by Brisbane’s Trevor Buckingham OAM, a member of the Gatton Show Society and secretary of the Queensland Dairy Showcase committee, when he addressed the 2019 Queensland Ag Shows gala dinner.

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Mr Buckingham, who was introduced to the Ekka by his grandfather, who had a Jersey stud on Brisbane’s northside, and who has been showing livestock for 46 years, told the 100 attendees on Saturday evening that shows lost their way when they thought their competition was Dreamworld and Seaworld.

“Shows were of the community, by the community and for the community,” he said.

“We need to take it back to basics – you don’t need all the glamour and bling.

“Shows must retain their relevance – they must showcase our heritage but not be in a museum.”

In a thought-provoking speech, Mr Buckingham said the need to show people where their food came from was greater than ever and needed to encompass animal safety.

“Not only do people not know where their food comes from, they don’t know how animals behave anymore,” he said. “This is a very fertile ground for us.”

He also quoted Gregory MP, Lachlan Millar, who addressed a recent show think tank, telling the next generation of the show movement that Queensland’s agriculture and pastoral movements needed them more than ever.

The dinner, held at the Burke and Wills Hotel in Toowoomba, showed there was plenty of talent and innovation happening amid the uncertainty facing rural Queenslanders dealing with vegetation management rule changes, drought, bushfires and agricultural education cuts.

Some 100 attendees from as far afield as Cairns, Charleville and Samford and all places in between, gathered to, in the words of Next Gen committee member Kait Shultz, give its unsung heroes a pat on the back.

The first of those was Pittsworth Show Society president, Jack Murphy, the society’s youngest-ever president, who received the Emerging Leader award from a field of seven nominees.

Jack started stewarding for the poultry section when he was 13, becoming chief steward at the age of 15. In 2018 he was Queensland’s representative in the national young judges competition for poultry.

His involvement with the show’s social media has seen post views increase by 450 per cent, giving the event a higher profile with a younger audience.

Gin Gin’s Amanda Mittelheuser, a vice president of her local society and delegate to the Burnett sub-chamber, was the runner-up.

Her involvement began when she represented Gin gin as its 2014 rural ambassador, from where she went on to be instrumental in introducing the major evening entertainment of a Young Farmers Challenge.

Drought relief and ag education each featured in the Innovation in a local event award, won by the Dirranbandi P&A Association for its Paul Kelly and Friends concert.

Attended by over 3000 people, it provided an outlet for people to forget drought and water buyback concerns for a night, and contributed over $100,000 to assist with the Dirranbandi State School’s agricultural studies program to ensure the future of young people wanting to work in agriculture.

A pop-up art gallery that received 605 entries and sold 54 pieces of art was the runner-up in the category for the Goondiwindi P&A Show Society.

The Aspects Art Show aims to offer a platform for regional artists to break into commercial avenues.

In the final award on the night, Pittsworth’s Allan Denning, a third generation volunteer, received the outstanding individual contribution award, after stewarding for showjumping, fat cattle, pigs and horticulture over his time.

According to the citation, the work that Allan puts into his local show is a year-long process.

Another tireless worker, Gatton’s Valma Evans, who has been a member of her local show society since 1975, was the runner-up.

From stewarding in the beef section to catering for show events with the women’s guild, including organising the show balls, to valuable assistance in the office as well as for the past 15 years, she has been the Gatton Show’s sub-chamber representative and is a life member and patron of the society.

The Member for Toowoomba South and opposition Attorney-General, David Janetzki opened the evening, saying the show movement had been a big part of his life growing up when his father was in charge of the beef section at the Oakey Show.

He paid tribute to the many volunteers that make the show movement happen, noting that it was Queensland’s largest volunteer movement, contributing over two million volunteer hours and bringing 11 million visitors, more than visiting cinemas in the same time period.

“I think the government has underestimated the value of bringing the country to the city, and the endeavours of country people,” he said. “They’ve underestimated what’s possible in agriculture and shows are a part of that.”

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