The gumboots were on and the stakes were high.
After a gruelling day of showcasing his farming credentials at the Ashburton A&P Showgrounds, Peter O’Connor was awarded the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
The Pendarves Young Farmers Club vice-chairperson and dairy farm manager was one of eight Aorangi Young Farmers vying for the regional title at the finals on Saturday.
The event, hosted by the Pendarves Young Farmers Club, saw contestants complete a series of challenges that tested their practical skills and agricultural knowledge.
The finalists had an exam on Friday night, followed by the practical day on Saturday where they kicked things off by building a worm farm, Pendarves Young Farmer and event convener Ashleigh Bell said.
In the afternoon they went into their second head-to-head, Agri-sports.
Instead of building something, they completed different tasks in a race format.
The day was finished off with a quiz on Saturday night, before the points were tallied.
The event was organised entirely by club volunteers, giving organisers a chance to hone their leadership skills and club members an opportunity to network and connect.
“It gets people off the farm, and some just enjoy the social aspect, to talk to people and make new friends. Others find it great for leadership growth,” Bell said.
Television personality Te Radar, who has been involved with the Young Farmer of the Year competition since 2017 as MC, kept spectators at the showgrounds entertained as the finalists worked their way through the challenges.
“You are looking for people who not only have the practical and intellectual skills to be the FMG Young Farmer of the Year,” Radar said.
“You are also looking for people with leadership and business skills.
“But I think for the community, it’s entertainment.
“You get to come together and celebrate some incredible young people.”
The event included an Agri-KidsNZ challenge and the FMG Junior Young Farmer competition.
“You see the generations coming through. They go from the AgriKids to the juniors, and then you see them go on to the FMG Young Farmer of the Year,’’ Radar said.
“You watch people grow up.
“What stands out for me is the ongoing relationships you have with people.’’
After being awarded the title at the Hotel Ashburton ceremony on Saturday night, O’Connor said he was excited and nervous to be heading to the national finals.
“You’ve just got to give it a crack. It doesn’t matter where you come; you’ll learn something.
“That’s what you get out of these competitions.
“It exposes you to new knowledge and that’s going to help you progress.’’
O’Connor shared the podium with James Bell, who came in second, followed by Jess Cunliffe in third place.
Waihi Stags from Waihi School won the AgrikidsNZ category, and the title of Aorangi FMG Junior Young Farmers of the Year went to Jack Foster and James Clark from Mount Hutt College.
All winners from the seven Young Farmers Club regions will compete in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Timaru in July.
- By Claire Inkson