We were recently asked by Caley Hood, our “Akubra’s for Women” blog model, if we would sponsor the sheep section that she was organising of the Korumburra show. I thought this would be a good opportunity take a trip into regional Victoria and see what sheep showing is all about.

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Korumburra Country Show

The Korumburra Country Show

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Country shows are an ingrained part of Australian society, the first one held in Hobart in 1822, designed to encourage farming among the settled colony. Sydney followed the year after, quickly spreading to more than 580 regional shows throughout the country. The Korumburra show itself is currently in its 124th year and is still a major event in the local community calendar.

Regional agricultural shows have written the history of Australian farming by providing farmer-to-farmer education and innovation. All the great technological advances have been revealed at these community events, from the first automated shearing machines to the first GPS controlled tractors.

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 Sheep Section Organisers Caley and Kasey

Sheep Section Organisers Caley and Kasey

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But aside from providing an essential educational role between farmers themselves, the shows are proving to be a vital exhibition of agriculture in modern society. Country people are reaching out to bridge the gap between them and modern generations of city folk that have become disconnected in the knowledge of where their food comes from. 

Agriculture shows are seeing a revival in recent years, brought on partly by the need to give this essential education of the raw food product to the end user. The shows have been doing this by introducing forms of entertainment, such as tractor pulls, which have been drawing new and more diverse crowds.

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A Beaut Ute at the Korumburra Country Show

A Beaut Ute at the Korumburra Show

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Another side of the agriculture shows that have seen a surge in interest is the junior judging program. This interest has been accredited to agriculture programs in schools introducing a new era of kids to careers in farming. Caley’s sheep section at Korumburra had 30 kids from the local area show over 100 sheep on Saturday, a much bigger number that she had anticipated.

Caley herself is a great example of a school agriculture program sparking a passionate career. Caley wasn’t raised on a farm herself but joined a sheep showing team in year 7. She formed an attachment to a particularly shy ram called Jovi and says from that moment on she knew she wanted a career working with livestock. Caley went on to renting a local paddock at only 16, where she keeps her own small flock of sheep. Caley is looking forward to working on farms around Australia as a Jillaroo after she leaves school, but for the meantime she will settle for organising the sheep sections at the Korumburra show.

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Caley and a Prize Winning Corriedale Ewe

Caley With a Prize Winning Corriedale Ewe 

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Caley thinks shows like Korumburra are an important part of Australian culture. “It allows the younger generations to learn more about agriculture, get to know successful farmers and get into the business. There are so many jobs available in the agriculture industry that are not being filled. I know from local shows I have grown many connections, which have led to work on local farms.”

 And Caley isn’t the only young person seeing the value in a career in agriculture and running her own acreage. Korumburra first prize ram winner Tess Runting, a 20-year-old from Pakenham, runs her own stud of 100 Corriedale sheep on 60 acres, which she registered at only 16 years old also.

 “Since starting my stud, I have been mainly interested in expanding and improving my genetics. I love breeding my sheep to improve productivity, especially with their wool- that’s my big focus, and to ensure the healthy continuation of the Corriedale sheep, which I believe is a true Aussie dual-purpose sheep with such robust characteristics.

I love showing the sheep I breed at agriculture shows, it’s great to get lots of different judge’s opinions and thoughts on my sheep’s genetics, so I can gain more knowledge in order to further improve. It’s awesome to be able to attend events and network with other breeders and the public; it’s amazing the people you meet at Sheep shows and what you can learn from and/or teach them! I love sharing knowledge!”

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 Tess with her Prize Winning Ram, Harry

Tess With Her Prize Winning Corriedale Ram, Harry

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“Country shows are so incredibly important to our community, as they are a starting point for bridging the gap between ‘city’ and ‘country’ and provide a solid platform for which to educate public about agriculture and why it’s success is so important now, and into the future.” Says Tess.

With such vibrant and inspired young people beginning to seriously craft their own careers in agriculture, the future of country shows like Korumburra can only continue to grow brighter.

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