Mingenew Midwest Expo: Young Farmers Challenge revamped for one-day soiree called ‘Main Event’

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Cally DupeCountryman
Mingenew Midwest Expo Young Farmers Challenge Swaggie Snags entrants William Heath, Sam Lloyd, Bridget Smith, and Anne Millar.
Camera IconMingenew Midwest Expo Young Farmers Challenge Swaggie Snags entrants William Heath, Sam Lloyd, Bridget Smith, and Anne Millar. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

Agricultural young guns in the Mid West are gearing up to showcase their talent at the region’s second Young Farmers Challenge on August 12, but organisers are coy about what it will involve.

The Young Farmers Challenge is open to those aged 18 to 35 and is set to provide plenty of entertainment for crowds unwinding after a full day of presentations and networking.

The competition will be held at 5pm at the end of a one-day soiree — called The Main Event — co-ordinated by the Mingenew Midwest Expo committee in Mingenew on Friday, August 12.

Inspired by the Young Farmer Contest held in New Zealand since 1969, Young Farmer events have become increasingly popular across Australia, including in WA and feature a series of challenges for mixed gender teams.

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Mixed-gender teams of four take part in a series of surprise challenges with the aim of testing their physical skill and theoretical knowledge of agriculture.

A Young Farmers Challenge was held at Mingenew Midwest Expo for the first time last year, although others have been held at field days and agricultural shows for several years.

Mingenew Midwest Expo Young Farmers competition organiser Billi Marshall said she had “learned a lot” after co-ordinating the event for the first time at last year’s expo.

After holding the event near the machinery section last year, she plans to kick off the competition at 5pm in front of the bar where the sundowner will be held at the Mingenew Polocrosse Grounds.

“We’ve utilised the best location we could, and we are going to have it in front of the bar to give people something interesting to watch,” she said.

“We hope to run two teams side by side this year so you can see how the competition is doing.

“The events will be slightly different, so don’t expect to come in and have the same competitions as last year.

“The event will highlight a lot of the small jobs farmers do every day, and to showcase the skill involved in being a farmer in today’s workplace.”

The event is run in like with Agricultural Shows Australia rules, with six timed events and time penalties implemented for safety breaches, and a big focus on teamwork.

“They can’t move onto the next task until the job is done,” Billi said.

The winning team qualifies for the Young Farmers state final event at the Perth Royal Show and if successful there, would go on to compete in the national Australian Young Farmers Challenge next year.

A rough and tumble group of farmers who made a last-minute decision to enter took out the first Young Farmers Competition at the McIntosh & Son Mingenew Midwest Expo last year — in a display of speed, skill and humour.

Stuart Gannon, of Mullewa, Britt Cocking, of Yandanooka, Robert Mitchell, of Dudewa, and Will Waite, of Northampton, were wandering around the grounds when they were approached by challenge co-ordinator Billi Marshall, who encouraged them to take part.

The group of mates put in a team — calling it Heatwave, in honour of the classic farmer footwear — and faced off against two groups of UWA students and a team of Elders employees.

Each team had to complete challenges focused on fencing, stacking hay, first aid, calculating spray rates, a relay dressed in personal protective equipment, and building a set of sheep yards.

Mingenew Midwest Expo has been revamped and adjusted this year with plans to run a more personal, one-day event as COVID-19 poses challenges for businesses and local communities.

The expo board plans to bring back Expo in its traditional two-day form next year.

A forum-meets-field day-style event will be held on August 12 and feature guest speakers, panel discussions, demonstrations and displays and business trade exhibits, before a sundowner and live entertainment that evening.

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