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September 27, 2021

North Coast National’s ‘chicks and chooks’

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The North Coast National’s 2018 Showgirl Jenna Robinson was juggling her HCS exams alongside sporting her sash for the duration of the show.

Eve Jeffery

Saturday was all about the girls at Lismore’s 133rd North Coast National Show with the chicks and chooks out in force on a sunny final day of the event.

Along with all the other things you expect from a show, highlights included the Showgirl event and the craft and baking prizes.

The North Coast National Showgirl for 2018 was Woodburn lass Jenna Robinson.

Jenna had a busy week – the 18 year old spent the first morning of the show sitting down with over 60,000 students nation-wide to complete her HSC English Paper 1 exam on Thursday with repeat performance for Paper II on Friday.

Jenna, who attends Trinity College in Lismore, went straight from the classroom to the showgrounds both days.

Far from a beauty contest, the agricultural Showgirl movement is about finding young female ambassadors for rural NSW and the agricultural show movement. The winning Showgirl of each local Show Society is selected by a panel of three judges.

One of the Showgirl duties was to help calm the nerves of the ‘Little Miss’ entrants and Jenna Robinson took a few minutes to chat to Ewingsdale entrant Hope.

Entrants must have a genuine interest in, and knowledge of, their local area and rural NSW. The Competition encourages the participation and awareness of issues faced by women in rural NSW. Contestants are judged on personality, confidence, ambition and life goals, general knowledge, rural knowledge, presentation and speech.  Finalists must also demonstrate knowledge of their local community and current affairs.

In addition to their potential ambassadorial qualities, contestants are also judged on their involvement in and experience of rural affairs.

Jenna says that even though you would imagine being showgirl and doing exams was a lot of pressure, but says she was surprised it wasn’t. ‘It actually hasn’t been a lot of pressure. I just went to school for two hours with the whole stress of that and the night before, but then once I got to the show it was just relax time.’

Jenna’s show ‘relax time’ has seen her buzzing about all over the grounds visiting stalls and repping the event in the arenas.

Jenna, who has been doing Showgirl events since she was 12-years-old, says she loves the Showgirl movement. ‘I started with the ‘Little Miss’ events, then I went through the ‘Teen’ event – I won that in 2015 – and I thought I would come back and give it a go and get some experience this year. Public speaking has become so much easier for me through this experience.

Jenna says she was very surprised to be chosen at the 2018 showgirl because she was so young.  ‘I just thought being the youngest I could place, but I didn’t think I could win. The other girls had so much experience. One of the judges said it was the consistency through my knowledge of the area, the show, agriculture – I grew up on a farm, they could see my passion for agriculture I guess.’

Jenna says agricultural shows are very important to the area. ’I really love the Lismore show, but Nimbin, Alstronville, Bangalow, Mullum – they all have amazing shows. Shows bring the whole community together and we can see the talent around. We have the baking show and the art prizes, photography, we get to see the talent of all the wonderful people around our community that we don’t get to see every day.

Jenna plans to be a nurse and will study at TAFE next year and has no plans to travel. ‘I love my home too much. I won’t travel far.’

Louise Somerville with a bird in the hand and another in the winner’s circle for the sixth year running.

From chicks to chooks…

Back in the craft sheds, the competition was on for dresses and knitting and all sorts of frabricky stuff.

Louise Somerville from Lismore was again the recipient of first prize in the Children’s Soft Toy – Any Other Medium section. ‘I’ve put something in every year for the past seven years,’ says Louise who also doubles as a Knitting Nanna Against Gas and volunteered at the poultry shed as a chicken carer.

Louise has an almost perfect strike rate coming away every year with a place with her wonderful chooks. She won 1st prize in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2nd prize in 2012 and 2014. ‘I’ve always liked chickens,’ she says. ‘Everyone loves chickens. I’ve made hundreds of  chooks. They are international! There is one in India and one in Japan, a couple in America and they are all over Australia.

‘I give them to special people. People who deserve one in political leadership – people who have stood up for farmland and spoken out about what Coal Seam gas and coal are doing to it. Glenn Lazarus has one, Jeremy Buckingham has one,  Tony Windsor – I gave him one. If you deserve it, you get one.

‘A few of our local councillors have them as well, and just quietly, I know there was once a directive from a mayor that “no more chickens were to come to council meetings”. They like to come in and have a bit of a cluck.

It was a great show and now planning begins for 2019.

Photos Tree Faerie

The winning chook – a silver bird won the Soft Toy Other Medium section at the Lismore Show, the sixth one in a long line of chooky sisters made by Louise Somerville to receive the honour.




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