THIS YEAR'S Natimuk Show has seen a surge in competitors from all over Victoria enter into the shearing and wool handling competition.
Natimuk Agricultural and Pastoral Society committee member Michael Sudholz said almost every division of the competitions were full, with competitors travelling from as far as Euroa to participate.
"I was surprised to start with. As soon as we opened up the entries we had people coming in. They were very enthusiastic to come," Mr Sudholz said.
This year's pool of competitors come from towns such as Euroa, Yeodene, Inverleigh, Birregurra, Ouyen and Buangor.
The shearing competition is divided into three categories; novice, intermediate and open. Novice competitors have between one to three years of shearing experience.
"They have a chance to win a new handpiece, which is pretty encouraging for a young guy who is just starting out. The handpiece is worth about $800," Mr Sudholz said.
The open section of the competition will have professional shearers competing for Sports Shear points to qualify for future events. The top three shearers in the open section will also share in $1000 prize money.
Both the novice and open section of the competition have one spot left, with all the spots in the intermediate and wool handling competitions full.
"It is good to get so much support from the community to have the show again. Also from the competitors, to be so enthusiastic to get back into it again after 12 months of not being able to compete," Mr Sudholz said.
Last year's Natimuk Show was cancelled 10 days before it was supposed to be held, due to COVID restrictions.
In 2021, the Natimuk Show will be one of the first regional shows in western Victoria to go ahead, something Mr Sudholz believed contributed to increased interest.
Mr Sudholz said the Agricultural and Pastoral Society was initially worried about planning this year's event and had to work extra hard to make sure proper precautions were in place.
"I was a bit worried that missing a show may drag our number back. People get out of the habit or lose interest in it, but it has come back with a vengeance," Mr Sudholz said.
"It has been a hell of a lot of work for the show committee. Especially our secretary Judith Bysouth who has done a good job with all of the COVID applications and permits.
"It has been a real challenge for the A&P Society to have it, but we were determined to have a show, whether restrictions were still in or not and it is really paying dividends now."
Mr Sudholz said seeing the communities enthusiasm for the show was encouraging and believes the Natimuk Show will be an important step in the road back to COVID recovery for the region.
"We all get busy doing our own things and we all get to busy for social interaction some times, but I think it is more important that we realise. People have to connect again."- Michael Sudholz
"With COVID, it has really shown that we are social animals, that we do need to talk about how tough the other bloke is doing it and it doesn't seem so bad on your side of the fence then.
"I think it is very important that we have these functions to bring the community back together again. We do get tied up in our own little worlds and you need to get out there and see what the rest of the world is doing."
The Natimuk Show will take place on March 27 at the Natimuk Showgrounds, with events starting from 8.30am.
For more information, visit http://www.vicagshows.com.au/natimuk-ap-society.
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