Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Emily Barton from Walgett, and Katie Williams from Armidale will represent the New England Region at this years’ Syndey Royal Easter Show.

The two women, who are both very active in their local communities, have been selected from a pool of 15 young women to be put forward as the region’s ambassadors in the Land Sydney Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman competition.

The competition, originally known as the Sydney Royal Easter Show’s Miss Showgirl competition, has now been running since 1962 and is designed to play a role in further developing both rural women, and their communities.

Janelle Tongue, spokesperson for Zone 4, tells us that the 2024 competition, as always, presented an exceptional calibre of young women.

“The ladies are all interviewed multiple times and have to present their profiles based on their interests and involvement in their local AgShow and community,” says Ms Tongue.

“They are also judged on their public speaking and general knowledge.”

“It is an excellent competition for all young women aged 18-25.”

Due to the region’s size Zone 4 is allowed to put forward two finalists to go on the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.

Katie Williams, the representative from Armidale, says she’d previously never even considered putting herself forward for the contest.

“A work colleague suggested it to me as a way to work on my self-confidence,” says Ms Williams, who is a 3rd generation farmer from Uralla and works for Ray White Armidale in their livestock sales team.

“Ladies on the land are so isolated, and I myself have felt very isolated over the last few years,” she said.

“This was my window of opportunity to really get out there and become more involved in my local community and start forming a supportive sisterhood.”

Ms Williams says the pool of contestants have all been immensely supportive and she already feels as though she has made some lifelong friends.

“Connecting with like-minded women has just been fantastic for me.”

“If I take nothing else out of this experience its just that I want to be more empowered to help the next person I come along who is having a similar experience to me, because this has been life changing.”

When asked what she sees as the main challenge for young women living in rural townships Ms Williams says, “It’s all about confidence and skills and I just think that’s something that’s lacking for a lot of young women right now.”

Emily Barton, the representative for Walgett tells a very similar story.

“I’m totally new to the Young Woman movement and AgShows, but I see this as a fantastic platform to inspire other young girls to push themselves out of their comfort zones – The best opportunities are always the ones we chase.”

Ms Barton is a 4th generation farmer from Collarenebri and runs her own business contracting as a livestock working.

“Walgett struggles to have anyone represent them for anything so I’m really excited to be out there advocating for smaller rural communities like ours.”

She also echoes Ms Williams sentiment that women living on the land need to find more confidence in themselves.

“We really need to find a way to change perceptions and become more confident to stand alongside men in the Ag World,” she said.

“Too many of our girls seem to think that all the farm opportunities are for their brothers and that they just move away for uni or work but it really shouldn’t be that way – all our young people need to be engaging more with Ag and our rural communities to keep us moving forward.”

And finally, both women offer the same advice for others out there looking to perhaps put themselves forward for next years’ competition – “Just do it!”.

The Sydney Royal Easter Show will run from Friday 22nd March to Tuesday the 2nd of April and, whilst both Ms Williams and Ms Barton say they’re unsure of all the details, they know they’re both up for a busy week representing their townships. The winner of the NSW Young Woman award will then go on to do further ambassadorial work throughout NSW.

Something going on in your part of the region you think people should know about? Send us a news tip or email newsdesk@netimes.com.au.