With a passion for the community, the future is looking very bright for our 2018 Taree Showgirl, Courtney Robertson, who spoke with us recently about the competition and what being Taree Showgirl meant to her.
Hi Courtney. Can you tell our readers a bit about your background, how long you’ve been in the area, and what you’ve got on the horizon in relation to career options?
I’ve lived at Rainbow Flat most of my life and went to school in Forster/Tuncurry. In 2015 I moved to Newcastle temporarily to commence my university degree. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Newcastle Callaghan Campus and completing my entire clinical placement (800 hours) at Manning Rural Referral Hospital as part of a collaborative program through the university. I hope to move back to the area permanently once I’ve graduated and work at Manning Rural Referral Hospital.
What was the inspiration for you to enter the Taree Showgirl Competition?
Entering Taree Showgirl was always on my to-do list. Miranda O’Brien from Maitland and Ashley Olsen from Wauchope are both close family friends who inspired and encouraged me to enter Taree Showgirl. Both Miranda and Ashley were representatives for their local area. I loved watching both their Showgirl experiences and the opportunities that being a part of the Showgirl movement had to offer them.
Leading up to my Showgirl experience, I received a lot of guidance from previous Taree Showgirl contestants. They all encouraged me to get involved, describing it as “an experience you’ll never regret”. All the young women involved in the Showgirl movement are extremely passionate about their local community, in the same way that I am very passionate about my community and the agricultural sector.
You mentioned the judging process had changed for this year’s competition – how so?
In previous years, the judging of Showgirl was conducted in the weeks leading up to Taree Show. This year the Showgirl contestants were judged on the Saturday of the show, before the Grand Parade. This decision was made due to the difficulty arranging a convenient day and time for all Showgirl contestants and judges to meet up prior to the show (work and study commitments were factors contributing to this).
The judging criteria for Showgirl has not changed from previous years, although the annual Producers Dinner held the Friday night of the show (a tradition started in 2016 by the 2015 Taree Showgirl winner, Laura Polson) was not held. In previous years, the Taree Showgirl contestants would help host this event.
It’s quite an honour to be crowned Taree Showgirl. How did you feel when you found out you had won?
I was very honoured and overwhelmed to be selected as Taree Showgirl for 2018. It was a very memorable moment – one that was shared with close family and friends. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to my Showgirl journey and all that it will bring.
What does being Taree Showgirl mean to you?
The Showgirl movement provides an opportunity for young women to become involved in their local communities as rural ambassadors. Being Showgirl is a fantastic opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and learn from the industry leaders. I look forward to becoming more involved in the community and gaining life experiences, while meeting new people. I feel very privileged and proud to be the 2018 Taree Showgirl.
I imagine your calendar is starting to fill up. What do you have on the horizon so far in your official capacity as Taree Showgirl?
Taree Agricultural and Horticultural Society have funded my attendance to a personal development training weekend in November at the Aussie Cabins Complex in Dubbo. This will be my first outing as the 2018 Taree Showgirl. I’m looking forward to meeting and networking with other representatives from around the state.
On March 16, 2019, I will travel to Murwillumbah for Zone 1 finals. If I’m lucky enough to become a zone finalist, I will then have the opportunity to go to the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April. I have many plans for the next 12 months, and these details will be announced in the near future.
The Taree Showgirl competition goes back quite a few years now. What’s the history around the competition?
The Taree Showgirl competition commenced in 1878. Laura Polson was sashed as the 50th Taree Showgirl in 2015. Since then, Victoria Lee and Samantha Hamilton have been sashed. On the 6th October 2018 I was fortunate to be sashed as the 53rd Taree Showgirl at the 140th Taree Show.
For anyone who is keen to be a Taree Showgirl contestant in 2019, can you give our readers an insight into the entry criteria and how they would go about entering?
The Showgirl competition aims to find young women aged between 18 and 25 years old (as at 1st May in the year of the State Final) to act as an ambassador for the Taree area. Contestants must also reside, be educated or work within NSW for at least three months prior to their local Showgirl competition.
Contestants are judged on rural knowledge, general knowledge, presentation and speech, personality, confidence, ambition and life goals. Entrants must have a genuine interest in, and knowledge of, rural NSW. Showgirl contestants must also demonstrate knowledge of their local community and current affairs, as well as their involvement in, and experience of, rural affairs.
To be in the running for the Taree Showgirl, watch the local media for entry information.
Finally, do you have any advice for young women contemplating entering the Taree Showgirl competition?
Don’t hesitate! I strongly urge any young women aged between 18 and 25 years old who have a passion for agriculture, rural NSW and our beautiful community to get involved. The Showgirl movement opens many doors for young women. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet amazing women, make new friendships and develop valuable communication and networking skills.
Interview: Ingrid Bayer.