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Lord of the ring marvels at show's enduring appeal

Chris Clark


April 09, 2010 19:26:00

The name Tom Frankcomb is as about as synonymous with Tasmania’s Huon Valley show as apple cider, fairy floss, dagwood dogs and lost kids.

In fact there has never been a ringmaster at the event that was not called Tom Frankcomb.

The latest one has been calling the shots for the past 15 years, in a tradition started by his grandfather and passed on to his dad.

When it began Tasmania was known as the apple isle and the Huon Valley was its thriving hub.

Times have certainly changed and so too has the Huon show, but it is as popular as ever.

The current Tom Frankcomb reckons keeping the agricultural focus “front and centre” has been an important part of its enduring appeal.

“We try and include all the traditional livestock industries, as well as we’ve got the newer livestock industries which are quite big in the Huon, like the alpaca as well as the cattle, the sheep and those sorts of things,” he said.

Livestock is still an important part of the Huon show routine, but it now reflects the changes that have taken place within the community.

Robert Drummond has been coming to the Huon show for about 40 years.

“Well, the environment’s changed completely in the area as regards full-time farmers. Now this has become more a hobby-farmer style area,” Mr Drummond said.

“The big farms have disappeared – like the big fattener – they don’t exist. It’s more small hobby farmers style, the alpacas and the small cattle holdings.”

What the Huon show does have going for it is diversity.

Bill Robbins is a fifth generation merino breeder who caught the alpaca bug 20 years ago.

Mr Robbins says there has been an alpaca class at the Huon show for the past four years.

“It’s a typical smaller country show and there’s a fair amount of upgrading still to do, but the very best animals here are getting close to where they should be,” he said.

“You go to a lot of country shows – and I’m from New South Wales – and a lot of those just exist on one particular species, whether it be horses or cattle and that’s all you tend to see, but here there’s a bit of everything.”

Mr Drummond says the secret to success is that no-one gets paid except the show secretary.

“Everyone else gets in and does their job and it’s all voluntary, that’s the trick,” he said.









First posted

April 09, 2010 19:20:00

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