BROOKE Yarnold is quick to describe her experience as the 2013 Miss Taree Showgirl.
"It was a brilliant experience. It has made me a better person," explains the 22-year-old Wingham woman.
Brooke barely pauses to add that it "absolutely helped me with public speaking and that is now a skill I can claim and take forward and use in the rest of my life."
It's hard to believe that Brooke lacked experience in public speaking prior to the competition as her confidence in communicating her message is clear.
"Prior to the showgirl competition I had never stood on a stage to speak in public and never held a microphone," Brooke said.
"There is room for improvement, as that was the area I learned let me down a little at the zone competition, but the experience has only been good."
Brooke said the competition was also a "perfect excuse to get all dolled-up and put on a beautiful dress" and added the benefits of entry to competitors were not limited to the winner.
"There are good incentives to enter, good prizes, it really is a great experience and I encourage young women to enter."
Brooke's decision to enter the competition stemmed from a strong family connection to the agricultural show and the Manning Valley.
Her mother and aunties had competed in previous showgirl competitions and she felt it was important to continue that tradition and highlight her family's longstanding involvement in the dairy industry. Dairying is part of her family on both sides, with her childhood spent on a family-run dairy farm at Killawarra.
"My mum's family also run a dairy farm on Oxley Island and both sides of my family have participated in all local and away shows for as long as I can remember," Brooke said.
Her commitment to the region is strong and she established a small business in Wingham, Beautique on Bella, to create a career in her local community.
The search is now on young Manning Valley women aged between 18 and 25 years with "ambition, drive and purpose to act as an emissary for ag" in the 2014 Miss Taree Showgirl Competition, according to Agricultural Societies Council of NSW president, Tim O'Brien.
"Held in conjunction with naming rights sponsor, The Land, the showgirl competition is definitely not a beauty pageant," Mr O'Brien explained.
"Entrants must have a genuine interest in, and knowledge of, rural NSW and encourage the participation and awareness of issues faced by women in rural NSW.
"Contestants are judged on personality, confidence, ambition and life goals, general knowledge, rural knowledge, presentation and speech. Finalists must also demonstrate knowledge of their local community and current affairs. In addition to their potential ambassadorial qualities, contestants are also judged on their involvement in and experience of rural affairs."
Mr O'Brien reflected that in 1962, 20 young women entered the first showgirl competition and the winner received a sash, silver tray and 250 pounds, as first prize.
"Today over 500 young women annually enter the competition throughout NSW with competitions being held in over 120 show societies with a $10,000 prize purse for our first placegetter," Mr O'Brien said. However, he added that the cash and prizes on offer were almost uniformly not the reason entrants took part.
"The prestige and pride that comes with knowing you're representing not only your town, show society and family but agriculture as a whole is a commonality which hasn't changed in all the year's the competition has been running".
For further information about 2014 Miss Taree Showgirl competition contact Val Weller on 6554 1240.