INTERNATIONAL Dairy Week (IDW) will be back with a bang in 2023 as it welcomes the return of interstate exhibitors and international visitors.
Organisers are looking forward to holding a bigger and better event at Tatura Park in Victoria on January 14 to 19, after last year's conference was held in the shadow of COVID-19 lockdowns.
IDW co-director Declan Patten, who was part of the team that took over the running of IDW in 2021, said they were looking forward to putting their own mark on the event - with some innovative additions to the program.
Entry numbers were already well up on last year with the return of exhibitors from interstate, who had missed last year's event due to border closures and COVID uncertainty.
Recent floods across a large swathe of dairy areas in south-eastern Australia had not deterred exhibitors.
"Although farms had taken a financial hit due to the floods, many people were saying they were still heading to IDW, as they wanted to connect with other people in the industry," Mr Patten said.
"They're passionate about it and this is a little ray of sunshine for them."
Mr Patten said international judges would again be in the arena, with representatives from four countries to officiate across the week-long event.
These include Kelli Cull, one of the most highly respected females judges in the world, who will be visiting Australia for the first time.
"It's exciting to be able to showcase the best cattle in Australia to one of the most respected cattle women anywhere in the world," Mr Patten said.
Other international judges are Warren Ferguson, from New Zealand, who was recently in the news as his family had owned cattle in partnership with Queen Elizabeth II; Callum McKinven, from Canada, who is also a highly respected judge and will be officiating in two events; and Brian Behnke, who developed the ABS St Jacobs brand.
They will be joined by some of Australia's most experienced judges.
Mr Patten said his team was keen to continue to develop IDW and had some exciting additions to the event this year.
The Red and White Holsteins will have their own show for the first time.
"The breed is coming ahead rapidly and there's been some great bulls in the last few years," he said.
"So, we thought it was the right time to for them to have their own show."
This event will be held on the Monday and animals in it will also be eligible to enter the overall Holstein show later in the week.
Mr Patten said youth were incredibly important to the future of the event, so they were introducing a showmanship and clipping clinic with two top fitters.
These were open to anyone who wanted to attend and would be held on the Saturday before the main events were underway.
The team at IDW was also looking to engage more with the wider community in Tatura and surrounds.
A food truck festival will be held on the first evening of IDW to educate members of the local community about what happens at the event and about the wider industry and have a fun time.
Mr Patten said a first-class seminar program would be held this year and - for the first time - this would be livestreamed so those who were busy or at home could also take part.
Head to the event's new website for more information.
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