First published by Ben Harden on Queensland Country Life
The president of the Emerald Show Society, Jessamine Crawford, has announced her retirement after 27 years on the society’s board.
Of those, eight years were spent as president, a role she took on in 2014 after the death of former show president, Bob Ingram.
“Bob was an amazing mentor to me and he left some big shoes to fill, but I hopefully filled them in my own way,” Ms Crawford said.
Originally from Yelarbon, Ms Crawford first became involved in her local show as a young girl competing in equestrian events.
“I treasure those memories as a child and what that gave me as a person and shaped me to who I am,” Ms Crawford said.
“I guess moving to a new town, you look back to your roots and what you know, so I decided to volunteer to the local show society.”
Ms Crawford highlighted Emerald as a unique area in the agricultural field, enriched by the community’s broad variety of products.
“We have citrus, grapes, cropping, cotton, irrigation and cattle. We’re surrounded by an amazing variety within the Central Highlands community,” she said.
“The show is what brings all those individual sections of that industry together, and although it is big and a tangent population, we are a quiet, close-knit community.”
In 2013, Jess was awarded the titles of Central Highlands Rural Ambassador and then Queensland Rural Ambassador.
In 2006, Ms Crawford took on secretary where her vision was to make the Emerald Show a great event for patrons and to make the role of a volunteer an easier one to fulfil.
She put her hand up to be the Emerald Rural Ambassador in 2014 and was subsequently awarded the titles of Central Highlands Rural Ambassador and then Queensland Rural Ambassador.
As a young female show president, Ms Crawford has carved a path of success in part due to her family support, but mostly because of her determination and dedication to the job.
She has been known to rake and mow the lawn on the centre ring after the woodchopping events so that it is handed back to a local cricket club in the best possible condition and moved too many porta panels to count.
She has helped in updating the constitution and the executive moving to a more progressive model.
In 2021, the biggest Emerald Show on record, under Ms Crawford’s leadership, saw close to $1.2 million contributed to the Central Queensland region.
Her extensive knowledge of the Game Plan, an agreement over the management of the showgrounds, has allowed open understanding and discussions to ensure that the show is not adversely affected by council decisions in relation to the showgrounds.
Last month, she was nominated for the Outstanding Individual Contribution award, alongside 13 other volunteers.
The winner is to be named at a dinner in Brisbane on March 18.
Ms Crawford said she was humbled by the recognition.
“I have written numerous nominations myself, so I know how much time that takes,” she said.
“I’m just appreciative that I had some wonderful friends who took the time to write that nomination for me so I’m very grateful for that.”
On top of being a full-time mother, she also works as a senior agribusiness development officer in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Emerald.
She handed her resignation into the society at the last AGM and is now looking to spend more time with her family.
“I’ve been involved for a long time and enjoyed every minute of it, but I’ve got two kids and I now work full time for the government and I just need to take a break from the shows and I’ll return back when I’ve got some time to give,” she said.
“It was just a labour of love and it’s something I enjoyed doing and did it with my family, which was always enjoyable too.
“I’m sure I will still attend the show and I’m sure I will have plenty of questions that I’ll answer along the way to help those coming into the role.”
Upon reflecting on what International Women’s Day meant to Ms Crawford, she said the day was about recognising the contribution women make in each community, industry and family.
“I have been so incredibly blessed to have some amazing women as mentors and as friends and as work colleagues and it’s just nice to have a day where that is recognised and the contribution that is given by women is recognised,” Ms Crawford said.
Peter McGuire has stepped up to be president of the Emerald Show Society, with Samantha Elsden taking on the reins of vice president.