SPLENDID sunny weather was like a jewel in the crown of a fabulous Foster Show last Saturday, with gate takings up by almost $3,000 and a spectator attendance of around 8,000 people reflecting the district’s appreciation of the spectacle.
Show President Noel Afflitto credited the “absolute power of hard work” done by Show Secretary Rhonda Bland prior to and during the show as helping “make it the success it was” along with the “fantastic support” of volunteers, competitors, sponsors and the public.
Rhonda herself confessed that she was “totally relieved that it worked” and rued that she “didn’t see anything” because she proved too hectic to have the time for a planned stroll around to look the show over!
Award-winning photographer Zoe Phillips of the Weekly Times was busy with her camera after carrying out the honour of officially opening the event.
“Zoe was stoked to be invited and she was a delightful, down-to-earth official guest,” Show President Noel recounted.
Noel’s wife Amanda, who took on the role of Treasurer for a second year, reported that the Society’s show bags were “a huge hit and sold out by 11.00am, with people still inquiring for them at 3.00pm.”
She added that the both the dog high jump competition and the duck herding demonstrations by Paul Macphail’s kelpies were extremely popular, especially with humorous incidents such as the Jack Russell terrier ‘lifting its leg’ on the high jump and the working dogs refusing to take a break from their duties when commanded!
Among the widespread attractions, there was a constant queue of children waiting to enter the animal petting yard, the sideshow rides had hordes of screaming occupants and a multitude of men leaned on vintage vehicles and yarned with their mates or the vehicles’ proud owners.
Over at the Show Idol competition, Deb Collins was pleased that 16 entries had been received across the range of categories, representing a 30% increase since last year.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for young people in particular to gain stage confidence and show their musical talent, and we had good audiences all day,” she reflected.
Rhonda Bland praised the City of Casey Pipe Band for willingly performing to appreciative audiences (excepting the horses) at very short notice.
Inside the pavilion, section organiser Sue Hancock reported that photographic entries were up by 100 for the second year running, reaching a total of 430 entries in 2011.
With strong support of this section by members of Foster Photography Club who also used the day as their monthly rally, the quality and variety of shots on display was greatly appreciated by crowds.
Other attractions in the pavilion included colourful student art work displays, Claire Hardman working up caricature faces from polymer clay, a moving and static display of images of past years of Foster Show held by Foster & District Historical Society, calligraphy demonstrations by Jennifer Chitty and an enthusiasm for food combining to combat the effects of irritable bowel syndrome by Jo Hinchliffe who was brightly costumed with fake fruit as she spread her message.
From the multitude of entries in the draw for a $200 bank account with Toora and Foster Community Bank Branch of Bendigo Bank, youngster Will Chester of Foster emerged as the lucky winner.
With the bustle at the luncheon area hosted by Foster Hospital Auxiliary, it seemed that appetites were endless even though there were also steady queues at the outdoor food outlets of both community fund-raising and commercial origin.
From the crowded exhibit shed, steward Anne Roussac-Hoyne related “there was great excitement when competitors rushed in to see the results of the judging.”
She noted that the homemade wine and beer classes continued to expand as did jams and preserves, which are enjoying a popular revival.
With the cool damp summer, flower and home produce entries were understandably smaller than usual though needlework sections were also relatively light on.
However overall, Anne said she was “very happy” and described the craft and cooking classes as “being a good display with lots of entries and very few gaps.”
In the horse arenas, steward Julie Nicoll reported that show jumping, adult rider and pony club entries were up but open entries were slightly down on previous years.
“One judge from the Latrobe Valley was here for his first time and loved the show so much he has offered to come back next year,” Julie smiled.
“From the comments I have received, it seems the new judge for the miniature ponies and Shetlands was well liked too.”
Julie’s sole regret was that only one entry was received in the harness section, though with it being a Royal Melbourne Show winner (Matt Marriott of Yanakie with a Clydesdale and lorry), she had nothing but praise for the quality!
However she observed that if there were not more harness entries next year, it was a section that would likely be dropped.
For a prime dairy district, it was a pity that not a single dairy entry competed in the cattle classes, but steward Robbie Davidson was chuffed with the range of beef breeds on display.
“We had Herefords, Galloways, Dexters, Brahmans and South Devons, which was a really good roll up for our judge, Brangus breeder George Elliott of Hamilton,” Robbie enthused.
“It’s one of the better shows we have put on for a long time and some of the competitors and entries on Saturday also compete at Royal Melbourne and at Bendigo Beef Expo.”
Robbie urged dairy farmers to support their children in entering dairy classes at next year’s show on the theory that “if you brainwash them young with the joy of showing cattle, you’ll make a lasting impression that will probably be a life passion when they grow up!”
He concluded, “We had excellent sponsors and a couple of animals sold on the day.”
In the back corner of the showgrounds, poultry steward Peter Tilley advised that some 90 birds were displayed and that all classes had entries although the large hard-feathered breed numbers were a little down.
“There was a good display of Wyandottes, the feathers of the Frizzles and Silkies attracted spectators’ attention and we had the fun of a new ‘wacky’ entry from Margaret Haycroft who caged a soft toy duck,” he grinned.
The inaugural ‘Pit Stop’ men’s health check marquee was a “star success” with the majority of the 89 men who tested their health being given “a roadworthy” according to South Gippsland Hospital’s Community Health Coordinator Shianne Murray.
She reminded those men who received a “yellow canary” to claim their freebie health check at Foster and Toora Medical Centres and commented that those who had a warning in less than three areas were “given the tools to make some informed changes” if they wished.
Feedback from both the clients and the staff on duty concurred that the straightforward approach of the hand-out literature and the chance to practice checking a simulated set of ‘family jewels’ for lumps were particularly appreciated.
“Subject to obtaining sponsorship again, we would be keen to offer this service in future years so that men can receive an annual health assessment at the show,” Shianne said.
Noel, Rhonda and Amanda all emphasised the thanks that were due to those who helped make the show happen.
Amanda praised local traders for their particular effort this year in sponsoring the show, which she attributed to Rhonda’s particular skill in approaching people.
“Between the attendance, entries and the sponsorship, I expect we will be able to make a small net profit this year to start us off for 2012.”
Rhonda marveled at the “total, 100% commitment” of those who helped set up before the show and helped with dismantling and clean up afterwards, though more assistance was needed on the Sunday.
Stewards and Show Committee members will have a show debriefing where the positive moves, potential areas for improvement and suggested changes to classes can be discussed and noted for future years.
The Show Committee will again be looking for a Show Secretary as Rhonda has advised the next year she will be too busy starting up a business to repeat the effort, however she promises a detailed hand-over to assist the next Secretary.