As they say, it’s an exciting time to be involved in agriculture. Farmers face significant opportunities, but equally daunting responsibility as they seek ways to double food production by 2050. Success depends on increasing productivity, improving efficiency and thriving on innovation. And what better way to exhibit the hard work, and share the innovation than at the local show.
Australia’s agricultural show movement started with a bang in the 1820’s, where show societies were established to encourage and promote the future of agriculture in the colony. Hobart held Australia’s first agricultural show in 1822, then Sydney was on their heels the following year. Since then our shows have weathered wars, depressions, drought, product price slumps and stubbornly resisted both internal and external pressures to close.
Today, shows are still the main representative of agriculture in contemporary society. Revitalised shows across NSW are chartering the progress of agricultural expansions, encouraging competition, showcasing new varieties and bringing cutting-edge technologies to the farmer; while also maintaining the age old rural-metropolitan link.
This link becomes ever more significant as the average size of an Australian farm increases and number of small farms swallowed by corporate conglomerates increases. Resulting in generations of the family farm, and their workforce into regional cities and towns. Slowly, but surely the connection with the farm is being lost. However, shows are unrivaled at bringing communities together. While traditionally farmer to farmer education was increased through shows, now the end consumer learns what the raw product looks like. Especially in our world of social media and marketing, educating a wider community of who our local farmers are, and what a modern-day farmer looks like is vital.
Additionally, the contemporary show faces competition locally from other forms of entertainment so they must continually strike a balance between tradition, the need to stay relevant, and the need to evolve. Metropolitan, rural and regional areas need local events to keep their communities strong and diverse. To stay alive and evolve, country shows need to be run by the community, for their community. Great communities are created by the people that participate in them.