Cowra’s Steph Fowler the “next generation” of country shows

Steph Fowler.
Steph Fowler.

Cowra’s Steph Fowler is leaving Australia’s warm weather behind and heading to Edmonton in Alberta, Canada to take part in the Royal Agricultural Societies of the Commonwealth (RASC) conference.

Ms Fowler will be taking part in the RASC’s ‘Next Generation’ sessions, with seven other delegates from across NSW including Wagga, Cootamundra, Eugowra, Coonamble and Narrabri.

The group will look at the mutual successes and challenges in agriculture around the world and fostering the next generation’s involvement in agriculture.

Ms Fowler said agricultural show movements across the world were facing similar challenges and the conference was a good place to learn from each other.

“Agricultural show movements around the world have the same demographic problem we have,” she said.

“Because it is all ageing farmers involved, as their age increases we are losing a younger input.

“So there’s a big focus on ‘next generations’ at this conference with a special program that will bring together the young people from the Commonwealth and give us specific information on how we can best serve the local show movement and take things back to our own shows,” she said.

Ms Fowler said she was looking forward to hearing from other nation’s delegates.

“Cowra’s really lucky that we have a lot of young people in the show society and in the community that are willing to get involved,” she said.

“There’s a bit of a perception that the Cowra Show is a Fair where you turn up and go on the rides and go home again. It would be good to bring home some new ideas and get some new initiatives going.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to know delegates from other countries, particularly the African nations, to get an idea about what their lives, communities and local shows are like.

“It would be really good to bring back some new ideas on engaging with community and keeping the tradition of the show, but merging it into something more relevant,” she said.

Ms Fowler said the conference was about getting younger generations to see there are opportunities that come from being involved in show societies.

“I hope to bring back new and different competitions the general public can get involved in,” she said.

“At the moment pumpkin decorating is my pride and joy, because anybody can go out and buy a pumpkin, you don’t have to have grown it. You can decorate it with the kids and start the conversation about where pumpkins come from and what happens to them.

“And to show that you don’t have to have a herb garden, veggie garden, sheep or cattle to get involved and compete at the local show, there’s more avenues to get in and give things a try,” she said.

Mrs Fowler said it was thanks to the community’s support for the Cowra Show that she has the opportunity to attended the conference.

“Without the support of our show committee and the support of businesses in town that keep the Cowra Show going, I wouldn’t have this opportunity, because there wouldn’t be a Cowra Show for me to represent.

“It is getting harder and harder to run the show, because there’s competing users of the showground, the capital costs of running the show are going up and people don’t want to pay too much to go through the gate.

“Then you have conditions like this year with the drought and by the time the show rolls around the purse strings are closing.

“I’m pretty passionate about thanking the volunteers, the long term chief stewards and stewards, even the people who have only helped for a year or two because it’s a a huge community effort. We work for 363 days of the year to get a two day show off the ground,” she said.