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ALLORA SHOW: Bush Poets and passionate people

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Telling living stories: Bush Poets and passionate people


Beyond the football and cricket ground there is a great Australian tradition of the agricultural show. In Allora recently we had the privilege to spend some time with a regional show – a show that had been running since 134 years. Doug judged the photography section and then we spent some time with the people and the exhibits that made the show an interesting and engaging event. These were passionate people busily supporting this local community event.

There were displays showcasing with their creative pastime pursuits and community projects. The local schools had creative displays; there were the hobbyist awards for hand made objects and Leggo sculptures. Also in the big shed were the usual competitions for the best cakes, scones, dampers and my favorite – the fancily iced arrowroot biscuit, the heaviest pumpkin and the best Dahlia and the woodwork and quilts displays.

Allora Show - Best Dahlia

In the main oval there were suitably attired young girls with their horses in the dressage event. With their plaited hair matched the plaited mane and tails of the horses they competed with serious attention to the requirements of the event for the judge.

Lindsay Ashcroft with landscape photo and poem (see below) Photo: Victoria Cooper

Lindsay Ashcroft poem

Lindsay Ashcroft, the bush poet, seasoned regional traveller, with his lyrical repartee made impromptu performances to our group of workers as Doug judged the photos. He passionately recited his poems of Australian sentiments that referred to iconic symbols like the poems of Banjo Patterson. Photographs taken by Lindsay or a graphic and artwork that inspired the words accompanied each poem, were available for purchase.

Baillie Boys Show Photo: Victoria Cooper

Beside Lindsay was a miniature show, a scale model carnival, with a painted background featuring Toowoomba buildings. A trio of enthusiasts, the Baillie Boys Shows, created this as a departure from the usual model trains display. They are now working on their next venture. You can see more of their work on their website, www.baillieboysshows.com , where they show the construction of various elements and display venue schedule.

Margaret Phelan and Chief Pavillion Steward Barrie Geitz

It was fun to spend time with these people, their passions and their stories.


Words and photos: Victoria Cooper

Written by Cooper+Spowart

February 11, 2012 at 2:18 am


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Most photographers and commentators of photography discuss endlessly the biggest and the ‘best’ photo competitions around the country. It would appear that competitions are considered a most important aspect of the genre. But photo competitions come in many forms, some of which come in under the radar. Recently I judged the Allora Show Society’s Section “P” Photography, and the experience connected me with the grass roots of the world of photo competitions.

At the Allora Show photography stands alongside a diverse collection of arts, crafts and skills from needlework, baking, woodworking and scrapbooking, to painting, big pumpkin growing and cut flowers. My task was to work through the submitted entries in the 27 categories and select the winners. But first, on Vicky’s and my arrival we took a moment to take tea with the stewards, Kate Gordon, Judy Acason and Margaret Phelan. The tea was made from hot water brought in a thermos by Judy and was accompanied by home-baked fruit slice and butter and mini-lamingtons. Conversations over tea discussed the pros and cons of organising and presenting photographic competitions. Whether we were talking about the event we were about to participate in, or the big capital city extravaganzas of the AIPP Professional Photography Awards, the concerns and issues are the same.

We began the judging of class 1 – First and Second prizes were awarded as well as appropriate Highly Commendeds. Then the next, and the next category – working our way through the adult sections to the Junior sections. I was taken by the nature of the community document that the photographs represented. The ‘quality’, if you can call it that, was uneven at times, but the purpose and the honesty of each image as an authentic representation of an experience encountered and recorded is no different to those of the major national competitions.

Allora Show Photography judging - Landscape Section

Subject matter included; flowers, pets, family portraits, bugs, birds, frogs, lots of sunsets, people doing stuff, pictorial landscapes, sporting moments and vignettes of rural life. And the number of categories enabled specialist areas a chance to have comparisons between similar works. An interesting category was one in which a set of images were required to tell a story.

In the end a Champion Photograph of the show was chosen and for me the task was at an end. Vicky and I wandered off to view equestrian events, other displays of competitive work and lunch. When we returned the volunteer steward team was hard at it hand annotating the 80 or so award cards that had been made. I felt that maybe I should have held back on some of the Highly Commendeds. Participating in this event was just as important to me as any other I have had the honour to judge.


Stewards; Judy, Margaret, Kate and judge Doug

Words: Doug      Photos: Vicky + Doug


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