A clear and sunny late-summer’s day and markedly bigger crowds made the returned Foster and District Agricultural Show an undoubted triumph on Saturday February 22, 2020.
While 2019 went by without a Foster Show because of no secretary, this year’s event, the 112th iteration of a loved and obviously-missed community occasion, saw widespread and enthusiastic support from both exhibitors and spectators alike.
Foster and District Agricultural and Pastoral Society (FDAPS) secretary Denia Gilheany said she and her fellow show committee members were elated by the response to the 2020 Foster Show.
“It was awesome, and we’re all so happy that the Show was such a success!” she said.
“I’m sure the good weather played a big part in how well the Show went.
“The committee also thinks that the year off in 2019 may have made people a bit concerned that the Show might have gone forever and so they’ve been keen to support it this year.”
“Gate numbers were certainly up, with about 2500 people coming into the Foster Showgrounds, which was at least 800 more than the 111th Foster Show held in 2018,” Denia said.
“Exhibit Shed entries were way up, too, and it was chaos over there on Show Day morning with lots of late entries and people turning up with flower and garden produce entries they’d thought weren’t going to be ready in time,” Denia said.
“The Exhibit Shed stewards were run off their feet until after the judging was over but they all were smiling, too, because it was such a great thing to see the shed so full!”
There was a noticeable rise in the number of horse entries at this year’s Show, as well, including the ridden and in-hand classes and for the Pony Club and Adult Riding Club sections.
The driving class included a very tall Clydesdale in a jinker, a finely-matched carriage pair and a tiny pony in a gig.
The Robbie Allan Pavilion also welcomed an increase in entries, with more than 80 birds competing in the poultry classes, providing showgoers with an impressive variety of breeds, varieties, colours, types and shapes to admire.
Woodchop a highlight
A true highlight of the 2020 Foster Show was the South and Central Gippsland Axemen’s Association’s woodchop event, sponsored by the Bendigo Bank’s Toora and District Community Bank Branch and the Foster Branch.
The woodshop arena was located in prime position along the Station Road side of the Showgrounds, and the sounds and sights of axe and saw in action attracted five-deep rows of absorbed onlookers throughout the various competitions.
The axemen and sawyers themselves told Foster Show committee members that they were very pleased with the woodchop audience’s reactions and have indicated that they would like to be part of future shows.
Alison Lester opens show
Locally-bred and highly-renowned children’s book author Alison Lester officially opened the 2020 Foster and District Agricultural Show, saying that she had been to a good 65 of them so far.
“I am honoured to be asked to open the 112th Foster Show and I can remember quite a lot of the ones I’ve attended,” she said.
“How great it is that the Foster Show is still going, and long may it continue.”
Golden Brick Road
Innovative and historically relevant, the Golden Brick Road challenge for children proved to be a winner on Foster Show Day, with a trail of questions and answers on local subjects to follow in a quest to win a special showbag packed with prizes.
Prompted by Foster’s 150th anniversary in 2020 and the discovery of “worthwhile” gold in 1870 that led to the establishment of the town, the Golden Brick Road encouraged participants to explore the Showgrounds and find the nine GBR sites.
Questions included, “Where was the namesake of Foster, Mr William H Foster, from?” (Sale), “The most-climbed mountain at Wilsons Promontory?” (Oberon) and “To the Gunai Aboriginal people, what was the Prom first called?” (Yirak).
The first letter of each correct answer spelled the word STOCKYARD, and every child who arrived at the final GBR site, at the Manna Gum Community House display next to the Foster and District Historical Society stand in the stadium, with all (or nearly all!) of the letters received a showbag.
Nearly 250 GBR showbags containing a selection of treasures, from plant seeds, stickers and water bottles to especially-made “Foster Show” lollies were given away.
FDAPS life member Neil Nicol remarked to one of the show committee not long after the gates opened that “I haven’t seen so many kids at the Show this early before”, giving much of the credit for that to the GBR.
Avenue of Agriculture
Unusual British breeds of sheep including fleece-shedding ones that seemingly shear themselves, silkily soft Angora goats, an enormous but perfectly friendly horse, piebald Wessex Saddleback piglets and cattle coloured like pieces of extra-dark chocolate cake filled with cream could be found alongside many other fascinating displays in the Avenue of Agriculture at Saturday’s Foster Show.
Show organisers said many of the Avenue’s exhibitors reported positive experiences with a steady stream of interested people stopping to talk and to learn more about how to go about diversifying more mainstream agricultural production.
Located under the trees along the Jones Street side of the Showgrounds, the Avenue of Agriculture also proved to be one of the cooler places to be on Show Day.
Nearby, the Working Dog Trials began early on Saturday morning and continued until nearly 8 pm, long after the most of the rest of the Show had packed up and gone home.
Trade was brisk along Sideshow and Showbag Alley, and the barbecues and the refreshment stands run by community groups like the Port Welshpool Coast Guard, the Prom Coast Centres for Children and the Toora Football Netball Club sold out.
Thanks to all
Together with FDAPS president Noel Afflitto, Denia said “lots of people need to be thanked for all they’ve done for the 2020 Foster Show.
“Thanks to all of the sponsors, the exhibitors, the spectators, the show committee members and their families, the stewards and helpers and the community groups who have all contributed to the Show,” they said.
“We’d also like to thank all of the volunteers who just turned up at our working bees, on the day and afterwards to help us set up and clean up, too, Noel said.
“Everybody’s talking about how good the Show was and we’re so glad that’s what they think!”