Just a quick chat with Anthony Ball is enough to make you go whack a cake in the oven or try your hand at a new art or craft – whatever it takes to get you involved in your local agricultural show. The North Queensland Rural Ambassador won the state competition in 2015, becoming the first from the region to wear the title.
Anthony first entered the Rural Ambassador Award in 2007 as a young 20-year-old. He may not have brought home any state titles that year but Anthony enjoyed the journey so much he gave it another crack as a 28-year-old with more life experience, confidence and a huge passion for North Queensland’s agricultural shows.
While he admits he may have started out just looking to push the show movement and meet some good people, Anthony says the Rural Ambassador Award win opened so many opportunities for not just himself, but his entire region.
“I never expected to go all the way to the nationals but we kind of blazed a bit of a trail for North Queensland that year and there’s been many great young people who’ve followed and won some fantastic community awards,” he said.
“Being from the north, we’re so far away and the distance between our shows can be huge. The southern shows are closer together so a lot of people know everyone but when you rock up from the north you don’t really know anyone and people don’t know you, so having people take me seriously was the biggest challenge.
“Just like anything in life though you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and I made contacts that you never know when they’ll pop up again; it could be in three days time or thirty years time but they’re always there.”
Anthony acknowledges that for some, a fear of public speaking holds them back from entering the Rural Ambassador Award. Sure, he’s a livestock auctioneer so he’s pretty used to that side of the game but he says it’s nothing to worry about. Besides, there’s more important things to focus on – like your passion for your local show.
“At the end of the day, you could be an amazing public speaker but it’s your involvement in the show movement that you’re really judged on,” he said.
“ If you can speak but your involvement in the show is buying fairy floss and a Bertie Beetle bag, well you’re probably not going to go on. But if you’re just an okay speaker but you’ve been a steward, you’ve been a judge and you’ve shown chooks, and baked a fruit cake and that sort of stuff, that’s what you really need.
“Local shows connect us to a past that just doesn’t exist anymore. I think it’s more important than ever to keep that show movement and the ag side of things going because once those things fold they don’t come back.”
If you ask Anthony if he encourages other young people to enter the Rural Ambassador Award, there’s absolutely no hesitation.
“One hundred per cent, most definitely. Don’t even think about it. Every opportunity that comes along in life, you should jump at it and take it and this one’s a good one,” he said.