It was back to business as usual at the 2023 Act Belong Commit Williams Gateway Expo, with big numbers in attendance at the ever popular event.
It was a welcome family fun day again this year, after being held as a sheep show only in 2022 due to COVID restrictions.
The crowd was not the only thing in abundance - the rides, displays, food trucks and fashion shows were all flourishing, while being complementary to the shearing competition and the blue riband event - the annual sheep show.
Like always the sheep show was well-supported by stud breeders from across the State, which resulted in an action-packed day of judging for the Merino and British and Australasian Sheep Breeds.
When the judging concluded, new pieces of history had been written for the sheep show with names being added to the show's honour boards.
The Rintoul family's Tilba Tilba stud, Williams and the Marwick family's Codji Springs White Suffolk stud, Pumphreys Bridge, will appear on the honour board having won the highly-regarded, Farm Weekly-sponsored breeders' group classes for two rams and two ewes in their respective sections for the first time.
And they had to fit a new portable generator in with their teams on the way home, as part of their prizes.
With very few pens to spare in the ram shed, competition was red hot in both the Merino and British and Australasian Sheep Breeds judging rings as the judges made their way through the 128 Merino and Poll Merinos from 18 studs and 200 British and Australasian breeds sheep representing seven breeds from 23 studs.
In the Merino ring, the Rintouls' Tilba Tilba stud claimed its first win in the prestigious group class.
The Tilba Tilba team of classy Merinos defeated three other teams in the hotly-contested class which saw the judges go back numerous times to the team to ensure they got their places right.
Judge Preston Clarke, Perth, said the Tilba Tilba team were a very even team and all four sheep were very good examples of the superfine type.
"They were the most even team of all the groups on the mat and it was this evenness that got them over the line," Mr Clarke said.
"All four sheep in the group are well-structured, well-grown animals for their type and they are all carrying beautiful soft, fine wools."
The King family's Rangeview stud, Darkan, finished second with a Poll Merino team, while a Poll Merino team from the Eastville Park stud, Wickepin, finished third.
Mr Clarke said the Rangeview team contained four very productive sheep which were all carrying soft, long-stapled, rich wools while the Eastville Park team contained four well-grown sheep which had both good carcase and wool traits.
In the individual Merino classes, Rangeview stud, Darkan, finished on top with an upstanding, medium wool Poll Merino ram from the stud sashed the supreme exhibit and champion ram of show.
The champion ewe of the show title went to a superfine ewe from the Tilba Tilba stud.
The British and Australasian Sheep Breeds section is always very well supported by exhibitors and this year was no different with seven breeds, from 23 separate studs, strutting their stuff through the ring.
Across the competition, 200 sheep made up 175 entries, while the entries were down by about 10 from the previous year, the slight decrease was easily explained with the expo falling on school holidays, resulting in the Western Australian College of Agriculture, Narrogin, sheep and student handlers being notably absent.
Judges Laurie Fairclough, Stockdale Poll Dorset and White Suffolk stud, York and Brenton Addis, Yonga Downs White Suffolk stud, Broomehill, had their work cut out for them, with Mr Fairclough judging the Suffolk and White Suffolk classes and Mr Addis determining the Poll Dorset, Ile de France, South Suffolk, Texel and Wiltipoll breeds, before joining forces in the interbreed competition.
The White Suffolk and Poll Dorset breeds were in the greatest numbers, making up more than half the entries and exhibitors.
It was no surprise that for the interbreed competition, the seven titles were broken up with four won by White Suffolks, two by Poll Dorset's and one by a Suffolk.
Shining brightly at the top of the pack was Ryan and Courtney Marwick's Codji Springs White Suffolk stud, Pumphreys Bridge.
The relatively new stud was a real standout, taking home breed titles and the big two coveted prizes in the interbreed competition.
The Codji Springs grand champion White Suffolk ewe went on to win the supreme interbreed exhibit and champion interbreed ewe title.
Mr Fairclough said the ewe was a standout and young, so would develop even further, giving her so much potential.
"She was just an outstanding ewe," Mr Fairlcough said.
"She stands very square, has a great topline, has a great White Suffolk head and was just very correct.
"It is very hard to breed a ewe that is so correct, with all those great White Suffolk attributes.
"Her back end had plenty of muscling through the loin, she had great shoulders and stood absolutely perfectly."
Mr Addis said the White Suffolk ewe outshone the Poll Dorset ram that was crowned Interbreed champion ram because he just could not find a fault in her at all.
"The ewe had a bit more finish on her and more presence, she was just an excellent example of the White Suffolk breed and on the day was the best sheep," Mr Addis said.
Fittingly Codji Spring's interbreed group of two rams and two ewes were crowned the winning team also and the praise was free flowing for the quality of the sheep on display.
Shirlee Downs Poll Dorset stud, Quairading, won champion interbreed ram, Sasimwa Suffolk stud, York, reserve champion interbreed ewe and Leween Poll Dorset stud, Narrogin, reserve interbreed group.
Codji Springs also took home the reserve champion interbreed ram sash.
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