Dairy show baton passed on

Declan Patten and Bradley Cullen are approaching 2022 with a fair bit of enthusiasm given they have taken over the reins of running one of the most prestigious cattle shows in the world, International Dairy Week.

From humble beginnings as a dairy show held under a gum tree in Tatura 30 years ago, the event has grown into a week-long affair encompassing some of the best dairy cows in the country judged by elite judges from Australia and around the world.

Farmers travel from across the country to attend the event, which is held in January each year, and while Mr Patten and Mr Cullen do not envision any dramatic changes first up, they do have a vision to take the show and the dairy industry to the wider public.

“In 2022, IDW will be held at the same time and in the same place and the dairy show will remain the cornerstone of everything we do, however we want to promote all the great things the dairy industry is to the wider community,” Mr Patten said.

Located smack bang in the middle of northern Victoria’s food bowl and within a strong dairying area, IDW is the perfect platform to showcase not only great dairy cows but also the great array of food produced in the region.

“We are excited to have Stacey Leppert as our new events co-ordinator who will also focus on growing and investing time into celebrating the Australian dairy food chain,” Mr Patten said.

“We have future plans to create a food truck festival and are looking to entice a celebratory chef to the event and offer cooking demonstrations to the public.

“There is a lot of competition at the farm level when it comes to cattle but we would also like to support value adding and celebrate the dairy food chain as well.”

Over the years IDW has grown to include a youth show and seminars, and the partners are hoping to grow this important side of the event as well.

They plan on extending the variety of educational seminars available to attendees along with introducing tours of the region.

The youth side of the event will also remain a significant part of IDW.

“We are massive supporters of the youth events and we would like to focus on careers in agriculture as well,” Mr Patten said.

“Personally agriculture has taken me around the world and I want to show young people how many opportunities it really can provide.

“Down the track we would like to implement some sort of youth scholarship as well.”

The Power of Women in Dairy dinner is also something they are excited to embrace.

“Women are huge contributors to the industry and it is important their achievements continue to be celebrated,” Mr Patten said.

He said the Australian dairy industry had consolidated over the years and, with less farmers involved, the event needed to evolve to continue to be sustainable well into the future.

“We won’t leave any stone unturned. We have to grow for our long term sustainability and we will 100 per cent look at anything which will ensure that growth.”

And for Brian Leslie who has been at the helm of the show for the past three decades, the passing of the baton is something to celebrate.

He is looking forward to seeing where the boys take the show.

“IDW has been a marvellous event but it is time for a changing of the guard,” Mr Leslie said.

“It has absorbed a lot of my time and energy over that time but nothing can last forever and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.”