JUNIOR judges and paraders are invited to compete at the Esperance & Districts Agricultural Show to be held on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19.
A reinvigorated junior judging and parading program has been expanded to include sheep events in addition to the junior judging competition for cattle that has been held in previous years.
The junior events are open to novices (14-17 years) and open competitors (18-25 years).
The junior program at the show now includes Merino sheep, Merino fleece and meat breed sheep judging, in addition to beef cattle judging and parading and a school teams event.
With more than $1000 in prize money up for grabs and some great prizes on offer, the aim of the expanded program of junior events is to attract more competitors to the show and to provide an opportunity for juniors to exhibit their skills at an additional agricultural show.
Andrew Beaton, account manager wool, Landmark Esperance and chief steward for the wool section at the Esperance and Districts Agricultural Show, is enthusiastic about the opportunities the expanded program will bring to young people in the wool industry.
"It all started with the appointment of Stuart Richardson to the Landmark Esperance branch as our new animal health representative," Mr Beaton said.
"Stuart was only in the job a few weeks, when he had to take time off work for a trip to Adelaide to compete in the National Merino Fleece Young Judges competition, which he won.
"When he returned, I quizzed him about the competition and how he got to be competing in it.
"As chief steward for the wool section of the Esperance Agricultural Show, I soon realised this would be a great way to introduce young people into the wool industry and here was someone with all the knowledge on how the competition worked.
"I put it to Stuart if he would be interested in running a competition at the Esperance show and he jumped at the chance.
"Initially, I thought of just having junior judging for the wool section and grow from there.
"However, Stuart had other ideas and wanted to include Merino rams and meat sheep as this all ties in with the points collected by competitors from each section and from each country show and culminates at the Perth Royal Show where the top competitors from all of the country shows come together.
"The winners from the Perth Royal Show are then invited to compete at the nationals and that's how Stuart ended up at the Adelaide Show."
Mr Beaton is encouraging all eligible juniors to go along and have a go at the events on offer.
"I would like to let people know that you don't have to be a student of an agricultural college to enter," he said.
"We invite all budding young people to have a go and test themselves in their knowledge of wool and livestock.
"It's a great opportunity for them to learn off industry experts and other industry leaders and perhaps incite them to choose a career in the industry if they are not already involved."
A team event for students from agricultural colleges is also included in the program of events, where the college can nominate four team members to compete.
In a tribute to Esperance livestock agent, the late Peter 'Windy' Gale, the competing school teams have the chance to compete for the prestigious Peter 'Windy' Gale Perpetual Trophy.
"This is the inaugural team event so hopefully colleges will be keen to be the first to have their name on the trophy," Mr Beaton said.
"We thought that it would be a fitting tribute to a true legend of the industry to honour Peter 'Windy' Gale in this way."
Junior event co-ordinator Stuart Richardson, merchandise and animal health and management, Landmark Esperance said, "Windy had a huge input into the livestock industry in Esperance and more broadly".
"We felt that by commemorating his legacy in the way of a perpetual trophy his legacy would live on and the young judges would have an understanding of the great man he once was, to the ever expanding industry of Merino wool and meat," said Mr Richardson, who is the 2018 winner of the National Merino Fleece Young Judges competition.
"Having competed myself in many country, State and national judging competitions, both Andrew Beaton and myself thought we should incorporate something similar to the Esperance Agricultural Show, to add another aspect to the show and make a judging competition more accessible to young judges on the south coast and surroundings," he said.
The Esperance and Districts Agricultural Society and industry suppliers have thrown their support behind the junior competition.
Mr Richardson said the junior competition had been well supported by suppliers and sponsors such as Bayer, Zoetis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Fleur McDonald, the Asheep group and Esperance stud Merino Breeders' Association.
Kilayr Square Meaters stud provided support by supplying cash prizes, Neil Brindley, Landmark Brindley & Chatley Esperance sponsored the perpetual trophy and Elders Esperance provided the ribbons.
Courtney Moffat, Farm and General Esperance and chief steward, cattle section at the Esperance & Districts Agricultural Show is excited to see the increased amount of junior events at the show.
"The junior judging is a great opportunity for the students to get knowledge from past students and people in the industry," Ms Moffat said.
"We encourage and actively use younger judges to promote youth in agriculture with a drive for learning experiences.
"It has been great this year that Stuart has come on board to push the sheep side of things, he knows what he is talking about and can relate to the students, having done all of the classes coming into the schedule this year.
"Hopefully, with the Peter 'Windy' Gale Perpetual Trophy up for grabs we can encourage the schools to come along to support the new classes.
"All of the classes are a great way to get yourself out there to grow your knowledge and share your own beliefs and ideals of your type of animal, that you would be wanting to breed, all in a friendly atmosphere."
The winners of the individual junior judging events at the Esperance & Districts Agricultural Show will qualify to compete at the junior judging State finals held in 2020 at the Perth Royal Show.
The deadline for entries is tomorrow, Friday, October 11 at 5pm, however late entries will be considered, depending on the number of entrants.
Further details can be obtained from Stuart Richardson on 0448 218 663.