The Mirror News

Community celebrates “everything country” at 2024 Foster Show

After opening the 2024 Foster Show, Joan Newman grins with
Foster and District Agricultural Society president Noel Afflitto.

More than 4000 keen showgoers, including 1000 children, passed through the Foster Showgrounds’ gates to enjoy a comprehensive program filled with polished ponies, leaping dogs, aristocratic cats, cattle, sheep, carnival rides, fairy floss, and more.

PEOPLE from throughout the Corner Inlet area and from the broader community gathered in Foster on Saturday February 24, 2024 to celebrate “everything country” at the 116th Foster and District Agricultural Show.

Mild, calm weather all day meant perfect conditions for the Show and the myriad of events and activities taking place in all corners of the Showgrounds, both inside and outdoors.

Foster and District Agricultural Society Inc. president Noel Afflitto said he and the Show’s organising committee and team of stewards “simply couldn’t be happier with the success of the 2024 Foster Show!

“First of all, there was the huge crowd at this year’s Show, which we reckon was at least 25 per cent higher than last year’s attendance, if not a lot more,” he said.

“Then there was the Irish and the Scottish dancing, which was just terrific and drew big audiences to every performance, while our first-ever cat show in the stadium proved to be one of the most popular attractions of all!”

The Agricultural Society invited Waratah Bay resident Joan Newman, aged 95, to officially open this year’s Foster Show.

Society president Noel introduced Joan to the crowd as “one of those people who live their life to the fullest, for example, someone who took up shooting and fishing in the days when such activities were perhaps not quite de rigeur for a woman.

“Joan has led a rewarding life, working for leading law and media companies here and overseas, becoming a skilled sailor, and travelling the world before settling back in Australia and, in time, making Waratah Bay her home,” he said.

“Joan loves her local community, doing woodwork and painting, and looking after the native birds who visit her daily and have become part of her family.”

In true recognition of the importance of the Foster Show to the surrounding farming district, Joan especially chose to wear an immaculate RM Williams moleskin skirt “I bought in 1973”.

In front of the packed Geoff McCraw Stand Joan said that “while I am city bred and born, I have lived at Waratah Bay for the past 25 years, and now consider myself to be an honorary country woman.

“I am also a complete devotee of dogs and have had the company and the pleasure of many special canines over many years.

“One important element that is common to urban and rural life alike is community, and here today we see the best possible example of a country community celebrating everything country,” Joan said.

“Here at the Foster Show we have the finest livestock, wonderful cookery and handcrafts, and people of all ages having fun, admiring the exhibits and having a crack at a ribbon themselves.

“The Waratah Bay community also welcomes families and friends to Charlie Brown’s Picnic every Easter Saturday, and the feeling of excitement there each year is just the same as it is at the 116th Foster Show,” she said.

“I am honoured to declare the Corner Inlet district’s very own agricultural show open!”

All around the Showgrounds there was movement, and colour, and all sorts of music, from Irish jigs and reels and rock ’n’ roll classics to the thump of current pop songs syncopating with the spin and the bounce of the carnival rides vied with the considered tones of the announcer out on the arena.

Glossy equines show jumped over painted poles, circled with their smartly-attired leaders during the in-hand classes, steadily drew two- or four-wheeled vehicles across the grass, and trotted, cantered and halted beautifully square in the ridden events.

It was hard to decide between the donkeys and the mules and their human companions as to who got the biggest kick out of their obstacle course, fancy dress and games, while in the nearby poultry pavilion the competition was fierce.

The Avenue of Agriculture featured farming machinery both small and large, Australian native plants and flowers, beekeeping and honey, indigenous wildlife protection, and Vuiller Shorthorns’ tame big bull “Scooby-Doo” who is always ready for a pat.

The Max Parnell Marquee, an enormous open-sided tent, was home to several varieties of sheep, a haybale hill of pygmy goats, and the flying knitting needles, crochet hooks and spindles of the Foster Wool Group and the Best Yarn Society.

The marquee was put up and later dismantled by the members of the Toora Football and Netball Club, tasks that involved hours of teamwork, precision and enduring strength!

The shelves of the rejuvenated Exhibit Shed were laden with cut flowers, potted plants, scones and fruit cakes, jams, sauces and relishes, home-grown fruit and vegetables, patchwork quilts, sewing and embroidery, woodwork and wool crafts.

In the basketball stadium were creative arts, photography, floral arrangements and children’s artwork exhibits alongside 40 or so felines in their decorated cages for the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy Australia Victoria Inc.’s inaugural cat show in Foster.

There were displays and demonstrations, stands and stalls set up to promote local community organisations, emergency services, and hobby and interest groups, alongside local and state government representatives, and business and utility information hubs.

Food, drinks and refreshments from all around the world were available to buy, such as twisted and fried potato, paella, meat pies and hotdogs, ice cream, mixed sandwiches, cakes and slices, lemonade and, of course, coffee.

Society president Noel said “the dog high jump was just as exciting as it always is at this year’s Show, and the Victorian titles sheaf-toss also went very well, too, with a lot of first-timers having a go and the novice and the women’s event really well patronised..

“Everyone likes the woodchop, which was kindly sponsored again this year by the Bendigo Bank’s Foster and Toora Community Bank branches, and the working sheep dog trials are always fascinating to watch.

“It was great to have the horse events back at the Showgrounds this year, and once we’d picked up all of the manure after the Show was over, you almost wouldn’t know that horses had been on the oval at all,” he said.

 “So much work is done behind the scenes, and the efforts and dedication of our volunteers leading up to the Show, on Show Day itself and then afterwards amazes us,” Noel said.

“New volunteers keep popping out of the woodwork and we’re always glad to welcome them and their various contributions towards the Foster Show.

“The Society wants to thank all of the people who helped to present the 2024 Foster Show as well as everyone who came along on the day, as an exhibitor and/or a spectator.

“This includes all of our sponsors and donors, all of the people who go to such trouble to prepare their exhibits for the Show, and the ones who turn up without fail to help.

“A special shout-out must go to the students of Foster Secondary College who took part so willingly in the working bee at the Showgrounds on the Friday before the Show, and to the dozen souls who turned out on Sunday to finish off packing up!” he said.

“One of the most heartening aspects of the 2024 Foster Show has been how much unsolicited positive feedback we’ve been receiving from patrons on their way out through the gate at the end of the Show and also going up on our Facebook page.

“Among the comments we’ve had are ‘fabulous day at Foster Agricultural Show today. Possibly the best we’ve been to. Huge congratulations to the organising committee!’, and ‘Such a good country show! Well done to all involved.’

“We were so pleased to hear that ‘our families had a great time yesterday. Thanks for the stalls, rides and various types of animals and entertainment. It was fantastic!’ and ‘Thank you for an amazing show! Very much appreciated’.

“We’ve also been given some very good suggestions about making the Show even better next year,” Noel said.

“It was such a big day for our little show, and what a great day it was!” he said.

“We all had a great day and hope you did, too.”


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