A passion for volunteering in his local community has seen motor mechanic Chris Hutchinson crowned the 2018 Rural Ambassador.
In a remarkable feat Kapunda Show has produced the state winner two years running with Mr Hutchinson taking over the baton from fellow committee member Sarah Hazel.
The 26-year-old from Angaston was announced the winner at a dinner on Tuesday night at the Royal Adelaide Show after the six finalists from across the state received a great three-day insight into the state’s largest annual event.
The award which is in its 21st year has helped thousands of enthusiastic young rural people to become leaders in their communities and shows, and also develop closer links to SA agriculture.
Mr Hutchinson who was representing Northern region described the win as “surreal” ,especially not coming from a strong rural background.
“I am not from a farm but I have been part of the Kapunda community for nearly 13 years and have embraced the culture and rural life and wanted to learn as much about it as I can,” he said.
He is also a relative newcomer to the country show movement getting involved when he was asked to judge the ute muster four years ago at the Kapunda Show.
The following year he became the convenor of the muster and has helped entries triple to 40 last year.
Mr Hutchinson has also stepped up to the show’s execuitve committee and is now the vice-president and secretary, as well as managing the show’s website and running their facebook page.
He has also rolled his sleeves up at Eudunda, Gawler and Angaston shows with various jobs and was the emcee for the Angaston Young Farmers Challenge.
Mr Hutchinson is passionate about the role of country shows bringing people together and says they are a “vital asset “ to growing country communities.
“If they (communities) are behind our shows they are behind the region and if they are behind the region that makes things a lot stronger for our agricultural sectors,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“I congratulate my fellow finalists who all did an amazing job and it was a pleasure to be a part of the group who are now lifelong friends.
“I would love to visit as many shows as possible and network with all committees and see how we can to work to together to continue to revitalise country shows.”
Mr Hutchinson is also heavily involved in officiating Australian Motorsport Events as a cams official with the South Australian Motor Racing Officials Association.
As the winner Mr Hutchinson received $5000 from the RA&HS of SA’s of Education Foundation, while the two runner-ups Kevin Lintern from Central and Northern region finalist Matthew Hagger each received $1000.
Mr Lintern, who is based at Freeling, works for the Department for Environment while Mr Hagger is a farmer and shearing contractor at Jamestown.
The three young men will travel overseas next year on a study tour to the United Kingdom sponsored by PIRSA, while all six finalists will receive a trip to the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Julia Clarke from Burra, who spoke on behalf of the judges, said the finalists were a “delightful group” and all worthy winners.
“While a lot of you talked about how lucky you were to live in your communities let me remind you your communities are really lucky to have you as well,” she said.
Rural Ambassador state coordinator Peter Angus says the ambassador program has been a great success injecting youth into country shows, with many former participants stepping up to leadership roles in their local shows.
He said the six 2018 finalists were a close-knit group who are excited about attending each other’s shows.
“They really gelled together right from the start and were really there to encourage one another which was evident in wanting to support one in the National Beef Paraders’ final instead of the event they had on their program,” Mr Angus said.