A Walcha resident is one of only two people from New England who have been named Champions of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) for their outstanding contributions to the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Alison van Eyk is being recognised for her successful sheep and wool exhibitions since 2003.
Ms van Eyk has been awarded the Sir Walter Merriman Memorial Trophy for being the most successful superfine and fine wool merino sheep exhibitor, as well as winning the supreme Merino sheep and supreme Merino fleece of the show.
“Exhibiting sheep at the Royal Easter Show is exciting: you’re putting your sheep up against the best in Australia and the camaraderie amongst the studs is amazing,” Ms van Eyk said.
“One of my fondest show memories was in 2012, during the final supreme Merino judging.
“We were lining up amongst a big row of grand champions and the supreme ribbon landed on the ram my son was holding.
“The smile that appeared on his face was unforgettable.”
Mrs van Eyk, Tamworth’s Doug Crowell and 13 other new champions will be celebrated at a private function later this month with RAS dignitaries and industry representatives.
Mr Crowell has notched up decades of pitching in to the Central Districts Exhibit, which all started as a favour to a friend.
He has since won champion pumpkin, taken out many ribbons with his oats and wheaten chaff and, for the past 20 years, taken out first place in the lucerne chaff competition.
“I am proud to be a farmer and lucky to be able to bring the country to the city and showcase our area,” Mr Crowell said.
RAS president Robert Ryan said Mr Crowell and Ms van Eyk epitomised everything the show was about: Australia’s biggest celebration of our country’s people, practices and produce.
“The Sydney Royal competitions are the cornerstone of the show and showcase the skill, energy, passion and produce from across rural NSW and beyond,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Champions of the RAS go beyond winning ribbons and trophies.
“Many have been a part of the show community for a significant part of their lives.
“The show would not be the world-class event it is today without the dedication and tireless commitment from our exhibitors who are represented by the 2018 crop of Champions.
“With so many different components to the show, the award recognises those who aren’t necessarily in the spotlight.”
This year’s show
This year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show will run from from Friday, March 23 to Tuesday, April.
There will be 32,000 entrants competing in 42 competition areas and 5500-plus competition classes, including livestock, domestic animals, arts and crafts, and woodchopping.
“The support and knowledge the Champions bring to their events help make the Sydney Royal competitions the best of their kind in Australia,” Mr Ryan said.