Here in South Australia, we are gearing up for one of the biggest events in the state's calendar.
This year it certainly isn't the footy finals season. Instead, I speak of the Royal Adelaide Show, which kicks off in just over a week.
Like its interstate counterparts, such as the Ekka in Brisbane or the Easter Show in Sydney, the Adelaide show evokes visions of rides, fairy floss and showbags. But the closest my colleagues and I will get to sideshow alley will likely be walking past the ferris wheel on our way to cover what I consider the real action in the show - the judging.
From the early days, the show was all about bringing in rams and jams and so much more, for a farmer to benchmark their produce against their neighbours.
Yes, the animals that you pass on your obligatory walk through the showground are there for serious business - all in pursuit of farmers being the best food and fibre producers they can be.
Many a winner I've spoken to has compared their supreme champion glory to that of winning a grand final. Both take a year - or several years - of preparation, planning and hard work, and all come down to the judge (referee) and competition on the day.
Another common comment is about how showing can get into your blood - not only do shows cross generations, there's also that warmth of familiarity as associations continue for decades.
Take Keith McRobert, for instance. Earlier this month his 30 years of service to the Royal National Association was heralded at the Ekka.
Most producers also say the show - when regional and urban Australia is in the one spot - is also a great way to forge a positive memory of agriculture in the minds of the thousands of people that come through the pavilions.
In the grains shed, there are displays, videos and interactive games that show how canola turns into cooking oil and wheat into bread.
For the past few years the dairy industry has been offering guided tours where dairyfarmers speak about where milk comes from.
There is also a program aimed at students, with many people who go on to work in agriculture saying these programs helped them develop an interest in the field. So many of our industry's leaders - and the networks that support them - are forged in these show rings.
In an era where just under half of students aren't sure if yoghurt and cotton socks come from plants or animals, this can only be a good thing.
Journalist, Stock Journal
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