The search for former show girls is on as the competition nears its 60th anniversary, with the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria looking to wind back the clock and reconnect with previous entrants in the competition to celebrate the anniversary.
Former Miss Rochester and Miss Goulburn Valley winner Sally Minchin travelled to Melbourne in 1984 after winning both titles as a 17-year-old to compete in the statewide Miss Show Girl competition. It was a special time for the now mother of two, and she remembers the evening she won Miss Rochester like it was yesterday.
‘‘It was a Friday night. I made my dress and everything for the competition and one of my friends helped me with my hair and makeup,’’ she said.
‘‘My parents had taken us over in a little minivan with all my friends from school,and we were running late and thought we’d missed (the competition).
‘‘I didn’t think I’d win it, but I did!’’
From winning the Miss Rochester competition where entrants were shown off to the crowd on the back of a truck, Ms Minchin said she then travelled to Shepparton to compete to become Miss Goulburn Valley, a competition she also won, much to her surprise.
‘‘Back then I didn’t think I’d even win it, there were some pretty good candidates . . . I think I was the youngest one,’’ she said.
The trip to Melbourne was a big moment for the young Sally Minchin, whose toff for a week in the city attending functions and preparing for the local competition.
Although she ultimately didn’t win the Miss Show Girl competition at the Royal Melbourne Show, Ms Minchin said the experience left her with plenty of memories to cherish, and some important lessons.
‘‘It just opened up the world to me, it showed me there’s more that just the little country town I was growing up in,’’ she said.
The competition has evolved during recent years into the Rural Ambassador competition, encompassing young men and women from across the state, but RASV heritage curator Dr Annette Shiell said Miss Show Girl had been an important part of the show’s history.
‘‘The Miss Show Girl competition provided some fantastic opportunities for the women that took part. They came from all across the state for the final in Melbourne — many for the first time visiting the city,’’ she said.
‘‘We have spoken to a few former entrants and they have such fond memories of the competition and friendships made with the women they competed with.’’