Best in Show

Our local country show, The Wallamba District Show was held on Saturday. It’s an event that’s branded onto my annual social calendar. I don’t miss if for anything. Neither does The Kid. He attended his first Show at 4 days old (next week he turns 9) and he’s been to every Show since, bar the 2 that were sadly and record-breakingly washed-out.

Every Show over the years has been fun, provided many laughs, and been the source of anecdotes, yarns and short stories for months on end. I’ve learned SO much about the CWA and their incredibly exacting judging standards, about people’s passive-aggressive competitiveness (OK, OK, yes, about my own passive-aggressive  competitiveness) and that practice does indeed make perfect (or should I say, absolutely no practice makes for an imperfect performance).

I love the Hall and all its exhibits. I relish the excitement in entering the Hall (and Produce Shed) on Show Day morning to see who has won which accolades. Often controversial, sometimes disappointing, occasionally tear-jerking (just ask Bec about the time she saw the Blue Ribbon draped over her Runny Mango Chutney), but always, always exciting.

This year our girlfriend Tanya entered her famous (to us) Sweet Chilli Jam (in Section 4: Jams, Condiments & Preserves, Subsection: Jams, Category 18. Any other variety not on schedule).

The Schedule of Events clearly states that for jams, condiments and preserves:

– Entries in excess of 2 years of age will be excluded
– Entries are to be clearly marked with type and year made
– Entries must contain no less than 250 grams – fill to 1cm from top
– Screw top jars must be used. No names, logos, cloth covers, paraffin seals, ties or labels with makers name or details on jars.

Tan had told me about not having quite enough jam to fill her jar to 1 cm from the top. She’d even measured the gap in the jar with a ruler to see how far off target she was. Nearly 2cm, but no time to make more jam. It would have to do.

Oh, the debrief conversations that take place after we’ve discovered wins, losses and near misses. They entertain me so much. In collecting the jam on Sunday morning, Tan discovered that the CWA-certified judge had left feedback, that Tan’s jam was delicious, but “actually more like a chutney (due to its consistency).. if she’d entered it in the chutney section (Section 4: Jams, Condiments & Preserves, Subsection: Preserves, Category 25. Homemade Chutney, any variety) she’d have won.. but aside from that, the jar MUST be filled to 1cm from the top.” Final word.

On the way home in the car, a lengthy and heated dialogue ensued, between Tan and her Hubby:

‘Did you cook the tomatoes first, and then peel them?’ This, from Hubby.

‘No, I did not. I was running out of time!’ replied Tan exasperated, her answer met with an ‘I Could Have Told You THAT wouldn’t work’ look.

‘So next year I’ll just enter it into the chutney section.’

‘What?’ says Hubby, incredulous, ‘but don’t you want to win in the jam section? It’s called Sweet Chilli JAM!’ Obviously a stickler for the rules. And so the debate continued.

Let’s face it, Tan just wants to get that winner’s ribbon, and she’ll do whatever it takes. Even if it means re-naming her Sweet Chilli Jam, Sweet Chilli Chutney. To us, it’s all about winning. A lesson, we’re tying very hard not to teach our kids.

Of course it’s the Produce Shed that I’ve really come to enjoy. It’s this old shed that houses my award-winning rosemary. On Thursday evening, when everyone was madly preparing their entries (or preparing to rise at 3 am to bake them fresh), I received a text which simply read:

The panic rose and I rushed outside to pick even more sprigs from my rosemary plant, desperately filling my already full vase.

On Saturday, I entered the Produce Shed trying to look calm, relaxed and even flippant. I pretended to notice the beautiful displays, while slinking ever so casually over to the herb section, scouring the entires for mine. Gauging the outflow of breath, tension and anxiety, I realised how worked up I’d been about the result.

On Instagram, that day, I boasted that my rosemary had won 1st for the seventh year in a row. That wasn’t quite correct. In the past 7 years, it’s been awarded 1st 5 times, and 2nd twice. But who’s counting? Although I will point out that it’s not just winning 1st place against other rosemary entries, it’s in ‘Section 16 Vegetables, category 19 Herbs, fresh bunch (any variety)’. So me and my rosemary are up against the basil, the thyme, the lemon balm, the mint, the tarragon, you name it, it’s an open herb section! HA!

Just quietly, I have been known to gift cuttings of my rosemary to people, on the handshake understanding that they will never, EVER enter it into the Wallamba Show. Jokes of course. Not. Maybe. Sort of. No really, it’s fine. But don’t.

The real highlight for me though, of the 2018 Show, was the inaugural Dog Jumping competition, held towards the end of the day in the main Show Ring.

Having planned in my head to do much training, but having in reality completed ZERO training, it was a big risk entering Jones in his first competition ever (aside from the Best Dressed Pet competition), let alone a Dog Jumping event.  Luck was on our side though, while the large dog category had quite a few contenders, the small dog category had only two – Pebbles and Jones.

The Kid took Jones through his paces, over the first jump, hardly a hurdle at all.

The problem was that Jones was WAY more interested in all the smells left behind after a day of animal events in the main arena. Plus he was surrounded by dogs that he wanted to play with. Why are you dragging me over this jump? I want to play! And smell! And sniff! And play!

With 3 planks on the jump, Jonesy managed to get over it but it was getting tricky for The Kid.

Both dogs made it over 4 planks, to much applause. But 5 planks was to be their undoing.

Pebbles ran head first into the wall.

And Jones? Well he simply refused.

This morning, Ross, who’s on the organising committee for the Show, sent the photo below to my Mum with the subject heading: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t drag a dog over a high jump.

So, in a 2 dog race, Jones took out joint 1st. The Very Best in Show, as far as I was concerned.

The Kid and I couldn’t have been prouder. The prize money was split and The Kid was mighty happy with his $25 while Jonesy got to take home a years supply of dog biscuits.

The local Country Show, what a wonderful tradition! And tomorrow afternoon, we head outside to start our year-long dog jump training program with Jonesy, oh, and to prune, water, fertilise and love that rosemary bush.


Note: the videos above are mine, but the photos of the dogs jumping (or not jumping as the case may be), aside from Ross’ were taken by my good friend Jodie. If you love great animal photos, you should follow her on Instagram (@hippochair). She’s very funny and posts beautiful images which are all her own. Thanks for these photos Jode!

In looking back over our blog entries, it turns out our local Wallamba District Show has provided us with much material over the years. If you enjoy reading about local Show antics, check out these posts from previous years:

With Relish!
It’s Showtime… again!
And the winner is…
It ain’t over till it’s over
Winning isn’t everything
The best thing since sliced bread


10 thoughts on “Best in Show

  1. Well, just a couple of things to bring up with you Bec H, in the spirit of healthy … er… competition:
    I think I may have pipped you at the post in the general herb category one year with my surprise award-winning Lemon Balm (now dead)… You know, the bush that no one knows what to do with. Just saying.
    And Jones’ first competition ever WAS actually the Best Dressed Pet competition which he won as Spider Dog, with my Jack as Bat Dog.
    And if Jack wasn’t arthritic and blind, he’d have given Jones a run for his money on the jumps… maybe… we’ll never know now.
    And lastly, hats off to Jonesy for what looks like literally digging his paws in to refuse the 5-plank jump – I say good for him! He knew he had it in the can from the moment he turned up with Pebbles as his only competitor, so why exert undue energy?
    And second-lastly, that conversation with Tanya and husband is hilarious. But let’s give him some kudos – he did come second with his limes! So let’s hear it for next year’s Jam Chutney!
    Great pics thanks Jodie!

    • Bec, read this last night before hitting the hay and it made me laugh hard! Yes, you are spot-on. I had forgotten about your lemon balm (or was I in denial?), but now I remember it well. So sorry to hear the plant is now dead (chortle, chortle). And I couldn’t ever forget the Best Dressed Pet Competition! It was just that given we didn’t ask Jack and Jones (aka Batdag and Spiderdog) to actually perform in that, I considered this jumping caper a new level of ‘competition’? No doubt, Jack would have given Jonesy a run for this money. The joint winner of the large dog category, Tina the Kelpie jumped 5″7′. From a standing start. It was incredible to watch.
      And the limes, that was a story I wrote about but later deleted, in the name of brevity. My limes didn’t place, so I begrudgingly congratulated Tanya’s hubby who immediately cursed the winner! After our convo I was left in no doubt, at all, as to what makes a good lime. Fascinating.
      It all makes me wonder, what will next year bring?!

  2. PS – forgot to mention that the … let’s call them ‘miniature’ dahlias in the foreground of the first photo are ours! Needless to say, despite last year’s ‘Grand Champion’ winner, we didn’t get a look in this time. Maybe I should have actually watered them?

  3. What a great overview of our fabulous local show. It gave me a good laugh. My Dad think the local antics are hilarious.

    • Thanks Laura, so much entertainment, most of which goes on behind the scenes!! Congratulations again on your 1st for your Mixed Herbs posy. So pretty! x

    • Thanks so much Lizzie. He hasn’t had a chance to sample his new biscuits yet but I’m he’ll love them. Got to finish his (by comparison) tiny bags of biscuits first!

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