18 January 2023

Crookwell Show chief keen to excite and enlist young people

| John Thistleton
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Ted and Kate McCallum, aged one and three, inspect three quiet bulls at Viewfield Hereford Stud, Bannister. Their father is keen to get young people engaged in rural affairs like the Crookwell Show. Photo: Ken McCallum.

The traditional country show has to evolve with new ideas to capture the imagination of young people and a fast-changing demographic in rural communities according to Ken McCallum.

The Crookwell AP&H Society president remembers shows being hugely important for promoting stud stock to other breeders and producers and much anticipated social occasions. But social media provides other means of promotion for rural producers, even though shows are still important.

Ken says of more importance is to draw young people through the gate at the annual show and hopefully onto the committee of their local show society to help develop visionary ideas for the future and keep agriculture to the forefront of communities.

The value of attracting young people was demonstrated emphatically at last year’s Crookwell Show which featured two performances by Freestyle Kings, a team of professional motocross stunt riders who swelled the crowd twice in the one day and will return for this year’s show on 11 and 12 February.

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Attendance leapt to more than 4000 people through the gate over the show weekend. “Financially it was our biggest show last year and I put that down in a big part to the motocross, it was a huge drawcard,” Ken said. He was particularly pleased with the number of young families that attended.

Shows have been a way of life for Ken’s family. His brother Robert Hain is show society president at Cooma, following in the steps of their mother Wendy Hain. “My first memory of showing cattle would be Cooma Show, when I was seven or eight dragging little heifers around in there,” Ken said.

“Mum and Dad had always been involved in the show, it was a two-day show back then, probably the highlight of my year as a kid, you looked forward to it,” he said. “We were even allowed to have a day off school, because it was a Friday and Saturday show.”

Crookwell Show’s gate takings soared with the addition of a motocross stunt Action at the Crookwell show. Photo: Crookwell Show Society.

“Mum had been involved with the show since she was a kid and her father had been involved before her,” he said. “Mum instilled in us the idea of giving back to the community.”

Following Wendy’s example Ken has been on the Crookwell committee for more than 15 years as a cattle steward and in various other positions. “Getting involved with the committee and helping with organisation is a way of giving back,” said Ken, who is serving a three-year term as society president, after contending with Covid-19 restrictions for the first two.

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“We have a good mix of experience on the committee but we have struggled to attract new members,” he said. “I would like to see at least three or four people under the age of 25 join. They will bring with them fresh ideas and a new outlook on how to do things, and I want them to be involved in creating this community event.

“Being a part of agricultural shows has given me a huge sense of involvement in my community and I want my kids to have the same,” he said.

One of the novel show events honours a Crookwell livestock agent who was involved in the sheep, wool and cattle industries with the Kevin ‘Dusty’ Coves Memorial Trophy. The trophy pits the supreme champions in poultry, cattle, sheep and wool against one another in judging, which is done in front of all the punters at the bar.

Crookwell Show Society president Ken McCallum with show stalwarts Billy Bensley, Upper Lachlan Mayor Pam Kensit, NSW CWA former president Stephanie Stanhope, Bernie Hogan, patron John Culley, Denny Anderson and Member for Hume Angus Taylor. Photo: Crookwell Show Society.

They see anything from a Rhode Island red rooster to a Merino ram, an Angus cow and calf and wool fleece contesting the memorial trophy.

The committee is also encouraging artisan producers with a new section for handmade markets, with the aim of offering something extra for people from Canberra to participate in the show.

So far, a gardener with pots and plants, Goulburn’s Spinners and Weavers and a soap maker have booked space for the handmade markets on the Sunday 12 February.

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