It was still dark as I drove into Olympic Park. Even with the big signs and the map they had sent me, I was having trouble finding where I needed to be. Once I had found the right carpark I was still struggling to find the meeting point. Three phone calls later and my mate, the (in)famous Jack Hewitt from ‘Oakleigh Free Range Pork’ was on the line, and only a stone’s throw away: “I’m in the LandCruiser with the crate on the back”, he says. I looked around the crowded carpark in those wee hours and all I saw was LandCruisers with crates on the back. The air smelt like the farm… the Show was in town. The pigs, goats, sheep and horses filled the crates, trailers and trucks that were all waiting patiently for their entry time. As I looked for my mate, I smiled at the proud owners in their swags having a bit of shut eye after driving through the night. Most of the hard work had been done now and these folks were ready to test their animal mates alongside the best in their class. Anticipation and snoring filled the air.
After a good walk around the carpark I saw the flicking headlights of Jack’s ‘Cruiser. We shook hands and had a look at our pigs in the back all snuggled in the straw. To save two trips, Jack had very kindly brought our pigs to the big city too. Both lots of pigs had travelled well and we were happy that they’d arrived without incident. Our allotted time came and we dropped our teams off in their allocated shed. We eyeballed all the other entries and although small, we knew the competition was going to be tight.
So, how’d we go, you ask? We came out pretty well for our first competition. A couple of Second Place ribbons for our Porker pigs and a Best Individual Pig for one of our Suckers. The big winner was the Free Range Pig Industry. This was the first time a Free Range Class was run by the RAS and they must be commended for coming on board. And a special note to the ever active Lee McCosker; the big driver behind the scenes.
The more that can be done to push the ‘true’ Pasture Fed Free Range Pork message into the forefront of consumers’ minds the better. I want it to be the norm, not the alternative. Competitions like this are great for farmers to meet and share knowledge and to see how their animals stack up against others. However the real winner is the public who can come and meet the farmers, see the animals, and learn and understand where their food comes from.