This article originally appeared in The Gatton Star.
There’s 128 show societies in Queensland and each year about 4000-5000 people stream through the gates of the Gatton Show.
While in the showground office, every year Valma Evans individually sorts through and prepares more than 1000 ribbons for the annual award winners.
At the 2019 Queensland Ag Show’s gala dinner last weekend, Mrs Evans was awarded the prestigious honour of runner-up in the Outstanding Individual Contribution category for her unwavering efforts over the past 43 years and this week said she was “thrilled” with the recognition.
Having embraced many roles with the society since she joined in 1975 – including working as a steward in the beef section, organising show balls and helping in the office – Mrs Evans had been nominated for the award by the Gatton Show Society and she was presented with a certificate and plaque.
“When I got the letter to say I was one of the finalists I was so thrilled, I could have danced for joy,” she said.
“I love the people and I like seeing the show being successful.”
For the past 20 years, Mrs Evans has been the sole co-ordinator responsible for arranging each ribbon for place-getters and she can often be found in the office surrounded by ribbons.
“This year there’ll be an awful lot,” she said.
“There’ll be about 1000 first, second and third ribbons. And then there’s fourth, fifth and sixth and champions and grand champions.”
She also understands the benefits of a satin ribbon over a felt ribbon.
“The satin ribbons do not get eaten by silverfish or moths,” she said.
But the show highlight, according to Mrs Evans, is stewarding the beef cattle.
With her late husband, Neil, the couple became well-known co-chief stewards of the beef section in 1976 and expanded the section to include futurity shows, carcass competitions, hoof and hook competitions and prime cattle.
They would sleep in bunks above the cattle and “wake up ready to go”.
Mrs Evans has enjoyed introducing new innovations to the beef sections, including a European section in the 1980s, and while the Evans name has become synonymous with the beef section, she said she always loved the excitement of the show’s night program and the fireworks.
Mrs Evans was given life membership of the Droughtmaster Society in 1996 and is still the main organiser of the Droughtmaster Futurity Show, which this year will be held from March 2.
In 1978 she started organising the show balls – she’s organised 19 in total – and the events became one of the largest social activities in the Lockyer Valley, attracting 505 people at their height.
“I like being able to do things and see that other people get enjoyment out of it as well,” she said.
“I’ve made an awful lot of friends.”
In 1987 Mrs Evans was given life membership and in 2007 was made a patron of the Gatton Show.