Shows have been a big part of Lachy Johnson's life since he first entered lego and eggs at the Mundulla Show as a youngster.
Two decades later, the 2023 SA Rural Ambassador award state winner hopes to share this enthusiasm with other young people and encourage them to get more involved in entering the competitive sections, and even volunteer to strengthen their local show.
"Country shows really bring the community together," he said. "They are a great chance for local people to showcase what is available in their region. It is a chance for local businesses to put their stuff out in front of people and for local kids to display their art or their lego or whatever they are proud of."
On Tuesday night at the SA Country Shows dinner at the Royal Adelaide Show, the 26-year-old who works for Wiese Farms near Bordertown and also runs his own fabrication and mechanical business, Johnson Built Bordertown, was awarded the title ahead of six other finalists.
The group spent the past few days together at the show meeting the convenors and volunteers across many sections.
Mr Johnson is heavily involved in the Mundulla Show, in his second term as vice president.
He has also been trade site convenor since 2017, helping grow this area of the show and is a driving force behind the night entertainment including the Young Farmers Challenge.
He is also a Bordertown Country Fire Service volunteer and involved in the Naracoorte Historic Vehicle Club.
Both Mr Johnson and the first runner-up Carly Gogel from Naracoorte Show, also representing the South East & Border Shows Association, have come up through the ranks of the program as former state Young Rural Ambassadors - open to those 16-19 years of age.
"I did a bit over 11,000 kilometres travelling across the state to country shows and to two interstate shows that year (2017) - the more I put in the more I got out of it," he said.
"I thought I would give Rural Ambassador a go but to end up here, I am blown away. I never expected this."
Mr Johnson hopes to again hit the road in the coming year and attend as many of the state's country shows as possible.
"I am looking forward to doing more networking and bringing ideas back to my own show as well as if there are other shows that are having an issue I might be able to help them, if we have been through something similar, why not help each other if we can?" he said.
Ms Gogel who recently stepped into a new role, Elders state livestock sales support officer, also has many fond memories as a child of helping her grandparents show their Merino sheep as well as entering cookery and craft.
In the past she has volunteered at the Keith Show and is on the Naracoorte Show committee, including convenor of the Young Farmer Challenge.
The second runner-up was Elise Kennedy from Pinnaroo Show, representing the Murray Lands area.
Ms Kennedy, who is also on her local show committee, is a partner in her family's farming business and also a small business owner with Made in the Mallee and ME studios showcasing the region's creative side.
After a car accident in 2013, she became a quadriplegic and is keen to break down barriers preventing everyone getting involved in shows.
Mr Johnson receives $5000 from the Show Society Foundation and the two runner-ups each receive $1000.
They will also participate in a two-week overseas study tour sponsored by PIRSA.
RA&HS of SA chairman Hamish Findlay, who spoke on behalf of the judges, said they had a difficult decision with the finalists "great examples of SA's future".
"Each of the contestants were so confident in their delivery, when we interviewed them there was no wrong answer from any person, which gives you great confidence about our future in agriculture," he said.
"Each and everyone one of them deserves a seat at a high table in their life."
Youth Competitions coordinator Jacqueline Francis said it had been a pleasure and honour to work with such an inspiring group of Rural Ambassadors in her first year in the role.
"This award gives country shows' youth a way to connect with like-minded people from across the state, while enjoying the many sides of the Royal Adelaide Show," she said. "I look forward to seeing what this group of ambassadors can achieve."
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