“To witness on the day an array of horse competitors young and old makes the horse show what it is today” – Geoff Young.

The Parklea Pakenham and District Agricultural and Horticultural Horse Show has strengthened its foothold in the local annual events calendar, but now it needs more young, enthusiastic people take the helm and to continue to drive it forward, as RUSSELL BENNETT reports.

This year, under co-ordinator Jess Robinson, the Pakenham and District Agricultural and Horticultural Society’s horse show at the Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre offered even more classes than ever before and its four all-weather open rings allowed a wide range of entrants the opportunity to walk away with a debut, prestigious agricultural show win last month.
But after co-ordinating this year’s event, Jess will be taking a step back – as she explained on the event’s Facebook page.
“Thank you everyone for the support over the last three years building the show to what it has become but, sadly, I will be taking a back step,” she said.
Jess was the central figure of this year’s show and put in an absolute power of work both during the event, and in the build-up.
While there was a small army of people who combined to make the show happen – including other volunteers, and sponsors – Jess’ family situation dictated that she needed to take a back seat for the time being at least.
She has a young child and will soon be relocating to northern Victoria, but urged anyone willing to be involved in the running of the horse show to make contact with the Pakenham and District Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
Geoff Young, the president of the show, congratulated Jess and her team for producing another standout event this year.
“To witness on the day an array of horse competitors young and old makes the horse show what it is today – the brainchild of Jane Comben who, with her vision, made our event a pre-Royal show,” he said.
“Our horse show is now certainly etched on the horse calendar – the last weekend in August.”
Geoff said the number of entrants in the horse show had sky-rocketed in recent times – and the good news doesn’t end there.
He said the show had an “unbelievable” opportunity to grow its horse component – and everything within it – now that its future was secure.
“The best thing about hosting it at this venue is that the showjumping is here, the arenas are here – everything is here,” he said.
“We don’t have to bring everything into it.”
The reasoning behind having the Pakenham horse show in the last weekend in August was so that it can become known as being the last major event of its kind prior to the Royal Melbourne Show.
And entrants have come from far and wide, and all sorts of demographics, to be involved.
Geoff said that while he didn’t consider himself a ‘horse person’, he completely understood the dedication of those involved in the industry.
“I got started in this probably about 23 years ago when my daughter decided she wanted a pony for pony club,” he said.
“I went to the Bunyip Pony Club, sat around, and then started fixing up jumps and doing all the fatherly things.
“Am I a dedicated horse person? No, not really, but I definitely understand the dedication it takes, well and truly.”
Geoff and the committee know it couldn’t run without two key people in particular – Jess and Jane.
“Without them, the judges, the stewards, parking attendants and people on the gates … it’s indescribable how much effort is put in by all of them.
“They’ve got the passion and it’s a real credit to them.”
The importance of the local agriculture and horticulture scene isn’t lost on Jess. As houses continued to be built closer and closer to her family’s property, that scene becomes all the more significant.
She could see the local landscape change quite literally before her eyes, and it makes her appreciate its agricultural heritage even more.
“A lot of the shows in our area – if they haven’t died, they’re run by people in their 60s and 70s who aren’t necessarily in touch with what’s going on now,” she said.
“I thought we’d have a different view to put back on things.”
Together, along with the current show committee, they’re hell-bent on securing the event for years to come so the younger generation can take ownership of it.
A key role of Jess’ has been securing sponsorship which will, in-turn, help secure the event’s future.
A big part of the continued success of the local show is its promotion through social media, such as Facebook. That, again, is generally an area of expertise that the younger generations can bring to the table.
“We’ve done a lot of it through Facebook and phone calls, which just shows the way it’s changing,” Jess said of the current climate with social media.
“That’s how we get a lot of interest in our show and communicate – it is through our Facebook page.
“We’ve got the event page as well as the show page, and even just endorsing the sponsors through there and getting people aware that, yes, we’re going to run again and this is what we’re doing – we’re looking for sponsors and we have the trade space out there.
“That’s been a big help because we’re reaching such a wider community than we otherwise would have.”
For the second year running, this year’s Supreme Champion Rider was Ebonie Lee on Silkwood Sublime.
Tamara Lee – on Kolbeach Holly’s Knowing – was named Supreme Champion Open Ridden Exhibit.
Supreme Champion Show Hunter was Ebonie again with Morning Side Hot Goss, while Supreme Champion Led was Rachel Hirs and Silent Moments.
Supreme Champion Amateur and owner-rider was Madeline Frazer on Royalwood Concerto, while the winner of the Supreme Champion Interschool Mount class was Charlotte O’Brien on SH Mighty Murray.
Geoff was recently unanimously voted in as president of the Pakenham and District Agricultural and Horticultural Society at its annual general meeting.
He said there was a range of exciting plans on the horizon for the 2018 show, thanks to its loyal sponsors and the fresh blood that has jumped on board.
Next year’s edition will have a ‘Green’ theme and will once again be held as a free event – on Saturday 17 March at PB Ronald Reserve in Pakenham.
“It will once again showcase our agricultural and horticultural pursuits and the community will experience the multicultural richness and diversity within our Cardinia shire,” he said.
For further information contact show secretary April Whitelaw at pakenhamshow1@bigpond.com or visit the Pakenham Show Facebook page.

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