President drives show spirit

28 Sep, 2015 04:30 AM
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SA Country Shows president Janet King is committed to bringing about generational change, pushing for more young people in SA’s 47 country shows.
SA Country Shows president Janet King is committed to bringing about generational change, pushing for more young people in SA’s 47 country shows.

IT does not matter what you offer to do, it will all help your local show.

That was the message from SA Country Shows president Janet King who is encouraging more people to volunteer their time and expertise.

She says the country show movement is in a "healthy state" but in the next two years in the top role, she wants to get more youth involved in committee roles and bring in their fresh ideas.

Janet says for country shows to thrive and prosper, a balance of old and young people is essential.

"I could see there were lots of little problems with some shows surviving and I worked it out myself from my own show if you don't let the youth in, your show will die because none of us live forever," Janet said.

The rural ambassador and young rural ambassador programs have produced passionate advocates but the most pleasing is the number of past participants who have gone on to be convenors and even secretaries, treasurers and presidents of their local show.

She wants to see it drive more succession planning.

"For your show to survive you have to use all the people in your district because then they will support you," she said.

"Whoever you have got on your committee will drag people through your gate. If you have young mothers that are involved they bring their children then the other children follow but you have to have older people with older knowledge as well," Janet said.

Her involvement with the country show movement goes back 35 years. She was a competitor for many years before that, entering junior cookery, dressmaking, knitting and art.

"Shows are a part of me," Janet said.

Her first role for the Kimba Show was in catering but she stepped up as president about 25 years ago.

At the time, the show was in a precarious financial position.

"With my training as secretary to the clerk of the Cleve District Council and fundraising experience they asked me to be president," Janet said.

"I told them I'd do it but they would all have to work hard and help.

"That first year we ended up clearing the debt, had a lot of entertainment for the kids, and invested $7000."

In ensuing years she held most roles including 15 years as secretary.

Janet stepped back from the Kimba Show after becoming involved as a SA Country Shows executive in 2000.

She says country shows showcase the premium quality, disease-free produce of SA agriculture.

"After seeing auctions for fine wool in Sydney I've never seen anything like it, with the Chinese bidding for fleeces. Overseas countries are astounded by our agriculture and want our grain, wool, meat and whatever else," Janet said.

She said every show was unique because it had something that their district wanted to see.

One of the small shows she has fond memories of is the Mundulla and the Moot Yang Gunya Festival.

"As soon as you walk through the gates you are made to feel so welcome and everyone is involved, even down to the local church minister blessing the horses," Janet said.

Her strong agricultural knowledge comes from working with her father for many years on their family farm near Kimba in her younger years, and with her late husband who was a shearer.

"You name it I've done it, from driving the tractor to other farm jobs. I've even killed a sheep when we needed some meat and crutched a flyblown sheep," Janet said.

She is thrilled the young judges competition - another initiative of the Ag Societies Council of SA - is fostering the next generation on the land and giving them valuable skills.

At the recent Royal Adelaide Show, there was a rise in the number of participants to 248 across 11 sections, from beef cattle and dairy cattle to Angora goat and Mohair fleece competitions.

The highest number of entries was 68, for beef cattle paraders.

Next year they hope to include poultry and grains junior judging.

On April 2 next year, together with Cleve Area School, they will be trialling a grains young judges competition at the Cleve Show.

Janet has visited many shows as a judge of cookery, dressmaking, knitting and art but she hopes to attend as many shows as possible as president, starting with her hometown Kimba this weekend.

"My sister-in-law has said she will come with me to many of them. She is from the city but she is another convert," she said.

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    Catherine Miller

    Catherine Miller

    is Stock Journal's livestock editor and South East correspondent

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