THE family of Agricultural Societies Council of SA life member Margaret Hurst have carried on her legacy at the Royal Adelaide Show’s rich fruit cake, Genoa cake and scone competition, by awarding a perpetual trophy this year, to honour her involvement in the renowned competition since 1972.
Daughters Ann Hurst, Jane Dewing and husband Neil Hurst, awarded the trophy to Vaughn Wilson, Wistow, winner of the fruit cake category at this year’s competition.
Ann said finding a way to keep her mother’s memory alive within the cake competition was important to the family.
“Dad began the whole idea because the competition was mum’s baby, she created it with not much help and put so much of herself into it – he just wanted something to honour that part of their life they shared together,” she said.
“If we suggested the idea to mum while she was alive, she would have howled us down – but what she put into it and what others got out of her being involved was important to recognise each year.
“Vaughn’s reaction when he won the trophy showed the impact mum had on the people she mentored.”
Margaret first caught the bug for country show baking competitions in 1971, when husband Neil planted the seed she could bake better than almost anyone.
Neil said the 1971 Tanunda Show was Margaret’s first attempt.
“She brought down half a dozen cakes and won four first prizes and was hooked from there,” he said.
“To this day the winning fruit cake recipe she used as the winning entry of the 1974 Royal Adelaide Show competition is given to the show entrants to follow.”
Margaret’s judging career lasted 25 years, including seven at the Royal Adelaide Show, and continued until she was 78 years old.
The first show Margaret judged was at Wudinna in 1974, which led onto memorable judging invitations at the Sydney and Melbourne royal shows.
Ann said once her mother began judging, she became critical of her own baking, and decided to invest in mentoring other cooks.
“Mum was always prepared to listen to others for hints and tips, and always passed on her own knowledge to others, so she really flourished as a judge,” she said.
“She had such a real love for it and it was a love that did not waver in all the years she was involved.
“It is hard to put into words, we were overwhelmed by the support from those involved in the competition, it all just came out of the woodwork.”
“To know mum helped others grow as bakers is definitely the legacy mum left.”
Thirty-six year-long idea still remains
The cookery section at the 1979 Royal Melbourne Show ignited Margaret’s idea of bringing a cake competition of the same calibre to SA baking enthusiasts.
Neil said forming the national competition was not an easy task.
“That year I was the secretary of the national body of country shows and part of my role was to attend the Royal Melbourne Show, so naturally Margaret came with me,” he said.
“When Margaret realised Victoria had a statewide rich fruit cake championship, she could not understand why SA could not have the same event.
“It took a lot of work and asking many people to get on board with sponsorship, but we got there.”
The first SA semi finals were held in 1981, with the first Royal Adelaide Show cake competition held in 1982.
Ann said “cake competitions became mum and dad’s special thing – they travelled the state together”.