SHOWCASING the best in local farm produce and country life at large, the 108th Annual Foster & District Show was a huge crowd pleaser at Foster Showgrounds last Saturday.
Show Society president Noel Afflitto declared the day, which was warm and overcast, with the rain mercifully holding off until the evening, a great success. “Attendance numbers were slightly down on last year’s, but still very good. We’ve had lots of great feedback from people who went. Many – especially those from the city – commented on the great rural feel. They love it for being a country show.”
Show secretary Denis O’Neill was equally thrilled. “There was lots to see and do,” he said. “A highlight for me was the 1929 vintage Dodge Brothers fire truck, which looked splendid in its restored condition at the CFA display. I have to mention the exhibit shed, too. It was ablaze with colour – hundreds of entries, plenty in the farm produce sections, vegies and the like. The dahlias and roses made a splendid display and the craft shelves were full. I was particularly impressed with the large scarecrow, very well dressed for the garden.”
Mr O’Neill was pleased to report that the 11 stalls at the Avenue of Agriculture were very well attended. “All had multiple enquiries about their activities and products. The Alpine Trout Farm attended from Noojee and sold all their live trout.”
The Avenue of Agriculture, now in its second year as a show attraction, was the brainchild of Robbie Davidson, and at this year’s show the Binginwarri farmer was honoured for his many years of volunteering, with Life Membership of the Show Society. “There is no person with more drive and vision on the committee than Robbie,” said the show president, as he presented the award. Life Membership was also presented to Jenny Sagasser, who has given an amazing half a century of volunteering to the show.
The awards were presented after the official opening of the show by the Victorian Rural Woman of the Year, Julie Aldous. Ms Aldous is passionate about helping young people identify and embrace career opportunities in primary production. She is responsible for developing an agribusiness course for students at Mansfield Secondary College which has become a pathway to a career in agriculture. She stayed in Foster as a guest of Litchfield Lodge and while she was here spoke to education leaders in Leongatha and Foster about implementing a similar program here for local students. She very much enjoyed her visit to the Foster Show.
Mr Afflitto said there was a wide range of exhibits and activities to enjoy and the quality of produce at the show was of the usual high standard. “There were plenty of entries in the horse sections and it was good to see dairy cattle on display this year. The working dogs were a great hit, but it was a pity there were only a couple of entries in the dog high jump.”
He said he was pleased to see a good mix of rides in the funfair section. Keen to clear up any misconceptions on the part of the public, he explained: “We don’t have any control over what the Showmen’s Guild supplies, and we have no input into the charges. They completely run their own race. We just collect a site fee.”
There are too many people to thank individually, said Mr Afflitto, but thanks are certainly due to the show’s generous sponsors, and to the many volunteers. “Members of Rotary and other service clubs and organisations, as well as many community-spirited individuals, attend working bees and work hard before, during and after the show to ensure its success,” he said. “Thanks are due to them all. We couldn’t do it without them.” He urged more people to consider joining the show society.
The last word goes to Robbie Davidson, who said as he received his Life Membership that it was the show committee as a whole who deserved congratulations. “No-one ever says ‘No’ if you come up with an idea. They say, ‘We’ll give it a go.’ I’d like to encourage more people, especially young people, to participate in the Foster Show Society,” he urged. “You’ll find it so rewarding.”