WA agriculture’s footprint ‘bigger and better’ at this year’s Perth Royal Show with new AgVenture Hill

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
Royal Agricultural Society of WA CEO Robyn Sermon at the Claremont Showgrounds.
Camera IconRoyal Agricultural Society of WA CEO Robyn Sermon at the Claremont Showgrounds. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

It has been the heart and soul of rural WA for more than a century, but organisers hope this year’s Perth Royal Show will shine a more significant spotlight on the State’s $11 billion agriculture industry than ever before.

A grassed area next to the Centenary Pavilion has been named AgVenture Hill and will form the agricultural centrepiece of this year’s event, with plans to bring together many of the agricultural displays and activities to an easy-to-find location.

In previous years, agriculture-related displays had been spread across the grounds and were at times hard to find.

AgVenture Hill on the eastern side of the Claremont Showground will feature an area focused on outback mustering, a milking station and a free AgVenture trail for children to take part in.

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It will also have a walk-through area called Amherst Farm with a farm house, weather station, a chicken coop, a WAFarmers display with a focus on broadacre farming, a grain silo, a small flock of sheep, The Sheep Collective, The Blue Tree Project and much more.

Technology will also be a big focus, with a virtual reality section focused on harvesting to enable children to experience what it is like to harvest a crop in a header and shear a sheep.

Well-known children’s character George the Farmer will also visit from his home town of Panoola, South Australia.

The Royal Agricultural Society of WA has also teamed up with machinery juggernaut CASE IH to provide a baler and a combine to showcase modern technology.

The Royal Agricultural Society of WA’s new CEO, Robyn Sermon, at the Claremont Showgrounds.
Camera IconThe Royal Agricultural Society of WA’s new CEO, Robyn Sermon, at the Claremont Showgrounds. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

The Centenary Pavilion will be rebranded the Farm to Food Pavilion for the Perth Royal Show, with exhibitors including the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, CBH Group, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Western Rock Lobster Council, Water Corp and Apples WA.

A stage will be set up inside the pavilion for exhibitors to showcase their products and to be interviewed about what they do.

There will also be several activations for children to let them to mill their own grain, dig for potatoes, cook a healthy meal in the Kids Kitchen, fly a drone on the simulator and more.

RASWA chief executive Robyn Sermon said the organisation had made a big effort to make sure agriculture’s shine was not dimmed by the bright lights of the sideshow alley and other commercial events at this year’s event.

She said it had been a difficult few years for the RASWA after the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions — the first time since World War II — and last year’s event was scaled back to exclude the Dairy Pavilion and several competitions.

The Show’s first online-only ticketing system did little to deter crowds, attracting a record and sell-out 60,000 patrons on the first day and buoying hopes that the event would continue to be a success.

After some time to reflect, RASWA figureheads agreed it was time the show focused more on its roots.

“Not having a show and then having a show very quickly with not a lot of staff and not all of our competitions ... it was a difficult preparation last year,” Ms Sermon said.

“We had time to sit down this year and we had some time to look at what was really important to us.

“And given the vision and mission of RASWA, it was about coming back to the agricultural and food industry.”

Ms Sermon, who took on her role in February and is the first female CEO in RASWA’s 191 years, hoped the AgVenture trial this year would be really successful.

“The Centenary Pavilion is one of our most gorgeous buildings here, so we decided to make that hill an agricultural focus,” she said.

“AgVenture Hill will consolidate much of the agricultural and food content, particularly educational content, on to that hill.”

RASWA president David Thomas, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan, RASWA chief executive Robyn Sermon, and Labor MLC Darren West.
Camera IconRASWA president David Thomas, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan, RASWA chief executive Robyn Sermon, and Labor MLC Darren West. Credit: RASWA/RASWA

A big part of the plan is about being able to “better curate” messaging around agriculture at the Show.

“We want to see if we can better curate and work with industry around key messaging, about farming in particular,” Ms Sermon said.

“Also to have an area that is largely free ... people can come and spend a few hours there, learn a lot and not spend much.”

Agriculture more broadly will have a bigger footprint this year, with several competitions making a return.

This includes the Dairy Cattle and wool competitions and the cat displays.

The Dairy Pavilion will make a return this year after being transformed into a COVID-19 vaccination clinic last year.

The cattle lane and the dairy cattle competition will remain in the same locations, as will the animal nursery in the Robinson Pavilion.

It will be the biggest animal nursery the Show has ever had, with statistics showing 80 per cent of visitors stopped at the site.

Sheepdogs and horses will be held in the main arena for a second time after rave reviews about the prominence last year.

There will be no district displays at this year’s Show due to difficulty sourcing volunteers to run them.

Ms Sermon said she hoped they would make a return next year.

Even the evening entertainment will incorporate agriculture, with an inaugural agriculture-themed drone show before the fireworks.

A small vaccination centre will continue to operate at the Jim Webster Pavilion.

“I’d encourage people to really enjoy the show ... it is WA’s biggest community event and that is special, given it is themed around agriculture,” Ms Sermon said.

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