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Judging the Judges at the Easter Show | Blue Mountains Gazette

Over the past week, thousands of competitors have lined up at Sydney’s Royal Easter show to showcase the best of Australian agriculture.

But the competition can’t happen without the judges, and a dwindling number of them from local shows is proving a challenge.

“It’s something we’re obviously aware of,” says Rob Wilson, chairman of Agricultural Shows Australia.

“But we really promoted the glamorous nature of that, so more than the locals realize.”

One of the Royal’s competitions aimed at attracting talent to the fold is the Young Judges Competition.

Dozens of juniors line up in seven categories to pit their skills against each other.

Rivalry can be fierce, especially in the sheep and beef sections, says Dr. Wilson.

“They have to explain why they picked first, second and third, so there has to be that confidence in public speaking as well.”

Becoming a judge can be quite a journey. Parading animals at local national shows comes first, then there are zone and state finals and eventually nationals, which are held at a royal show each year.

With COVID canceling the Royal Easter in 2021, this year will see two concurrent competitions.

Tasmanian Shara Perkins, 19, is ready for the challenge. Sydney is her first time as an alpaca judge.

As a relatively new category, the field is small but that doesn’t make it any less nerve-wracking.

“Honestly, I’m a little nervous,” she told AAP.

“It’s very intimidating, especially coming from a small town. I’ve never been to such a big show.”

However, given the opportunity to mix it up on the mainland, Shara is determined to do her best and at least come away with some valuable experience.

The farmhand takes on some of Australia’s top junior alpaca judges.

“I’m looking for a good quality fleece and the structure of the animal too…have a nice straight neck and a straight back, making sure it’s not bent or arched,” she said. Explain.

Although she didn’t grow up on a farm, Shara wants to own her own alpaca stud eventually, but in the meantime she hopes there will be more judgment to be made.

Dr Wilson says the society is trying to engage schools across Australia to attract judges, but is relying on encouragement from teachers, parents and caregivers.

“It also depends a lot on the enthusiasm of the committees at local shows because that’s where it starts,” he said.

Australian Associated Press