The last time I was at the Ekka, in 2019, it was to help launch AgForce's Stand With Regional Queensland initiative - part of our mission to bring city and country folk closer together, and to celebrate everything our (sometimes forgotten) regions have to offer.
Then COVID struck and our state's largest agricultural show was cancelled two years running.
Both times it was heartbreaking.
Hundreds of producers had spent months preparing to exhibit livestock and produce and were looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the wider public, educating the people who buy food and clothes from them about its origins, and sharing good-news stories.
But producers are made of stern stuff: they're used to picking themselves up after a setback and aren't afraid of having to adapt.
Some took part in smaller events held outside south east Queensland, while others embraced technology and live streaming options online.
Throughout numerous lockdowns, AgForce continued to connect people from the city with those from rural and regional locations via a series of online and face-to-face activities, forums, and educational sessions - whenever and however we could.
And despite all the uncertainty of the past three years, my conviction that ours is an industry and story that we can be immensely proud of has only deepened.
Farmers are still among the most trusted professions in the community, with enormous potential to drive better environmental, social, and economic outcomes both in Australia and overseas - but we have to ensure consumers trust our farming methods and understand why we do what we do.
That's (partly) why AgForce will be at the Ekka for its duration, with a site in the Agricultural Hall managed by elected representatives and staff.
We can't wait to catch up with all the friendly familiar faces, and to begin forging new connections with friends we haven't yet met.
Importantly, we'll be available to answer all your questions, to challenge any misconceptions, to educate the curious, and to champion the vital role agriculture plays in all our lives.
(The other reason we'll be at Ekka, is because it's so much fun.)
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