Samford Village, just 30 minutes from Brisbane city, is for its agricultural and farming history as much as its picturesque landscape. The advent of the 50th anniversary of its annual show prompted a look at the individuals who have made it what it is over the past five decades. For, to have an agricultural show continue successfully for so long is not small feat, as Karen Wolf, Managing Director of the Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Society (QCAS) notes.
“Show Societies are run by volunteers,” Ms Wolf said. “To keep them going for 50 years with dedicated volunteers running multi-faceted community events, with all the work that goes into doing it safely, meet community expectations, managing biosecurity and workplace health and safety requirements is a really big deal.
“For a band of volunteers to keep pushing that along for 50 years is no small feat. They are a great way for those of us who have moved on into cities, it is a great way to connect back to our roots.”
Run by the Samford Show Society from 1977, the show has always relied on the dedication of driven, community-minded individuals, says current Society President Frank Lippett.
“The Samford Show has grown well beyond the expectations of those who were involved in the early days,” Mr Lippett said. While the Management Committee do the nuts and bolts of it, by the time the show comes around there are always a couple of hundred people involved.
The Society’s founding President was Clem Gillies who took on the role upon the invitation of the late Sue Jones, who is remembered for the enormous amount of work she put into the show and her community over many years. He says that community involvement was the key to the show’s success.
“Getting as many people involved [in a show] is the best way to make anything successful in an area,” Mr Gillies said. “Sue [Jones] was actually the one who asked me to get involved after the Pony Club stopped running the show. I said that if I get involved it’s not going to be a one-day show—it will be a two-day show and I’m going to put everything into making it as big as possible.
“I asked Mr Seymour if we could use his grounds as he had a trotting track. So, we formed an active committee, fenced off the ground and made a big financial commitment. We brought in wood chopping, trotting and the dressage events back to Samford. It was a huge success.”
The late Gordon Sheaffe took over as President after Mr Gillies. He is remembered among residents as a bit of a character and for his trademark of always wearing a pith helmet.
Vito Rosso followed on leading the Society as President after Mr Sheaffe for a period of approximately 16 years in total from 1989. When the Society was given the permanent showgrounds in Highvale, the land was an open paddock full of gullies with no electricity. Long-time resident Margaret Hickey who was once very heavily involved in the Show remembers Mr Rosso’s significant contribution to that land.
“He did a tremendous amount of work to level the land,” Mrs Hickey said. “The showgrounds wouldn’t have been changed into the beautiful land it is today, and so quickly too, without him.”
Current Vice-President Frank Lippett he credits the Show’s success to the work of every committee member over the years.
“Each successive committee has kept an eye of changing demographic,” said Mr Lippett. While we are all keen to retain our agricultural roots, we have also been aware of changing tastes and interests. The success is due to the calibre of the committee members over the years.”
It is true that the Samford Show Society does not rely only on its President. The Society’s past and present Presidents, Treasurers, Secretaries and many committee members have all shown what dedication looks like and kept the Show alive. Running a show needs an army; an army of volunteers to organise and run the many displays, shows, competitions and activities. It needs parking attendants, ring stewards and gate attendants.
And let’s not forget the many loyal and generous sponsors upon which the Show relies upon. Without their willingness to get behind the local community, the Show simply couldn’t go on.
In the words of QCAS Managing Director Karen Wolf, “these shows capture the fingerprint of each local community and each face that make the community what it is.”