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Districts display their finest

Posted on : 19 April 2017

Written by: Wendy John

Beer cans, pumpkin pie and a first time win in 112 years; the stories behind District Exhibits are as rich as the produce on display.

50,000 pieces of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, wool and other goodies are trucked in each year from five districts to create the exhibits. But it’s not all just for show.  Only the finest produce is displayed, competing for the ultimate award; the District Exhibits Perpetual Shield.

Winning this year for the first time in show history, the shield sits proudly in the South East Queensland District court. Their produce was judged the best in show. In fact, the best they’ve displayed in over a century. They quite literally pulled it ‘out of the box’ having to source last-minute produce substitutions given recent flooding in Queensland.

Glasshouse Mountains avocado farmer Col Dabelstein is SE Queensland District court manager. Mr Dabelstein was honoured to receive the Governor Generals Medallion during this year's visit by His Excellency, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd). 

His Excellency acknowledged the success of the SE Queensland team and Mr Dabelstein accepted the praise with typical farmer's modesty,

“They’re all pretty excited about the win,” he said.  “Hopefully it will encourage them to continue and achieve even more.”

Central Districts display ‘Crop Circle – Nature’s Bounty’ won 1st Prize for display and the Sydney Markets People’s Choice. It features a rotating platform of grain and grammas - a type of sweet, moist pumpkin. Mrs Tanya Ranya of Casula made her way to the displays specifically to buy a gramma from Central District for her mother.

“For as long as I can remember my Mum would buy a gramma every Show to make a pie. Now I buy one, for Mum, each year with my daughter.  It’s a bit of a tradition.” she said.

Southern District won 2nd place for produce. Their display features recreations of the bridges that span their region, including Bethanga Bridge at Albury, Victoria Bridge from Picton and Tumut’s criss-cross Junction Bridge.

Farmer Jim Higman chatted with show-goers as they tried to guess various crop seeds.

“It’s very important to educate the city kids,” he said. “They like to understand where their food comes from.”

Les Clarke from Western District has been selling their famous toffee apples at the District Exhibit for over 20 years.

“One day a young District fella came out with a tray of them and said ‘Try and sell these’.  Well, we were swarmed and in 10 minutes they were all gone!  Now, we sell them by the thousand,” he said. “I can’t tell you the secret recipe but they are farm fresh Granny Smith apples from Forbes.”  

Collectively, the districts supply 37% of Australia’s $2.51 billion wool industry.  But the trophy for best fleece is a dented, old beer can – won this year by Northern District. 

Northern District local Lyn Cregan, said that in 1970 farmers were enjoying a quiet brew after judging.  Bemoaning the lack of a prize for best wool they took matters into their own hands. With larrikin spirit they chose a beer can and wrote the words;

“Know ye all men that this Beer Can is a symbol of the true spirit of friendly rivalry existing between the courts of the district competition.”

And if the popularity of the District Exhibits is anything to go by, the competition will continue for a very long time.