First published in Queensland Country Life


Banana bag fashion parades, farming feasts and record breaking displays are among the nominations for the Queensland Ag Show Awards this year.

Nine nominations were received for the best innovation with the winner to be named at a dinner in Brisbane on March 16.

The nominations for the Best Innovation in a Local Event Award are:

Show Camp – Crows Nest

Crows Nest Show Camp was resurrected after a 10 year hiatus by Elly Close, the Crows Nest Showgirl coordinator and 2023 Darling Downs Showgirl.

Elly’s grandparents Jeff Close and Bente Moller were the original event organisers for five years before it came to a halt.

The camp set out to give the next gen of the show ring a place to learn new skills, meet new people and build connections at a minimal cost, with the hope of encouraging them to participate in the local show.

More than 100 people attended the January event at the showgrounds with sessions on almost all sections including announcing, leatherwork, horses, cattle, poultry, agronomy, farm produce, welding, woodworking, fencing, cooking, photography, floral arrangements, whip cracking, card making and scrapbooking.

Organisers hope to see all who participated with their entries at the show in May.

Farmers Feast – Mudgeeraba Show

The quirky events boosting ag show visitor numbers

Formal luncheons at a show might not sound new but the Mudgeeraba Agricultural Show’s first ever Farmers Feast was said to have pushed boundaries, embraced collaboration, built relationships, and redefined the local event experience.

More than 100 guests enjoyed the exclusive ringside marquee aimed at celebrating local food, wines and produce, and showcasing the talents and skill of more than 50 TAFE (Qld) cookery, hospitality and event management faculty and students.

All TAFE students and faculty personnel volunteered alongside show society members to ensure the event’s success and financial viability.

Interestingly barbeques were specifically crafted for the event from repurposed 44-gallon drums by TAFE engineering students.

Many guests were asking to be first on the list when tickets go on sale for 2024 with local MPs livestreaming on social media, and councillors and VIPs sharing photos and posts from the marquee.

Fashion on the Paddock – Tully Show

The quirky events boosting ag show visitor numbers

Not only are Tully bananas great to eat, but they also have a future in fashion.

Banana section steward Melanie Collins was the brains behind the now infamous Fashions on the Paddock, which invites people to create a fashion piece from recyclable banana bags.

The idea was created to try to attract the community to attend the show earlier on the first day, and ultimately stay longer.

Packall Bananas donated $2500 and sponsors fly up every year from Brisbane to attend the event.

The entrants come from all over the area to parade their outfits on the runway, which needed to move from the exhibition shed to its own space in the ring.

There are often entries from local schools, thus engaging the youth.

 The Haystack – Gympie Show

The Gympie District Show Society raised more than $30,000 when it established an action packed mini show style atmosphere at a special event, The Haystack, in October.

A sold out crowd of 150 people gathered in a transformed old-style country dance hall to enjoy fine dining, live entertainment, auctions, trivia and guest speakers.

It was the brainchild of pavilion chief steward Mikaela Sima and senior showgirl entrant Hannah Johnston and aimed to bring attention to innovation in the local agricultural sector through manufacturing, celebrating local produce, and a focus on positive mental health and wellbeing.

Engine record – Dalby Show

Records were broken again and again when Dalby Show collaborated with The Engines of Pioneer Park Museum Dalby to host their world record attempts in recent years.

In 2021, in a post-COVID world, the two groups combined to run 353 engines for 10 minutes and nab the record from NSW.

Come 2023 the idea was made even grander with engine owners travelling from across the state and NSW and Victoria to offer 521 engines.

In the end, two records were broken, which attracted large crowds through the show gates.

Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular – Boonah Show

The quirky events boosting ag show visitor numbers

Boonah Show Society has set out to turn the Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular festival into the ultimate experience and stage the richest and most spectacular Clydesdale event in Australia.

Established in 1898, it is timed strategically to follow and complement the annual Boonah Show.

The event has grown into an experience that invigorates the five senses: see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

In 2022 the Scenic Rim Clydesdale Spectacular staged a historic first Australian Championship for stud Clydesdales known as The Thistle.

Swap Meet – Dalby Show

In just a few years the Dalby Swap Meet has attracted hundreds of stalls and patrons while raising more than $13,000.

Jess Weeks and Matt Reis were inspired to start the event in 2022 as a place for people to sell their wares.

The first event attracted 100 site bookings and 600 patrons and the following year it grew to 190 bookings with rain dampening some numbers on the day.

Young Farmers Challenge – Fraser Coast

The quirky events boosting ag show visitor numbers

The Fraser Coast Ag Show decided to put a fun twist on the young farmers challenge by leveraging the large number of schools that attend to compete in stud cattle events.

The objective of the Interschool Young Farmers Challenge was to foster teamwork and encouragement with problem solving around agriculture.

Five different schools from Hervey Bay to Bundaberg entered nine teams of four competitors.

It was so successful that students have already asked their teachers if it is happening again in 2024.

Young Leaders Lunch – Toowoomba Royal Show

The quirky events boosting ag show visitor numbers

Every student who attended the Young Leaders Lunch at the Toowoomba Royal Show said they gained a better understanding of the career opportunities in agriculture.

The event aimed at fostering connections between secondary school students (grades 11 and 12), accompanying teachers, and professionals from various agricultural industries within the region.

About 75 students, teachers and industry professionals attended the formal networking event last March, which included a range of speakers and activities to get those in attendance out of their comfort zone and aware of the job roles represented in the room.