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Timaru gears up for Young Farmer invasion

June 27, 2002

The South Island provincial city of Timaru is prepared for an invasion of more than 1000 people next week, as the Grand Final of the 2002 WRIGHTSON AGMARDT YOUNG FARMER CONTEST comes to town.

Seven of the country’s Young Farmer elite will battle it out over three days in the city, competing for the prestigious title of 2002 WRIGHTSON AGMARDT YOUNG FARMER of the Year in a series of challenges.

Business and tourism leaders in the city are expecting a welcome economic boost from the Grand Final, which regularly attracts a loyal base of friends, family and fans who travel to the event to support their local representative.

Glen O’Brien, general manager of Central South Island Tourism, estimates the Contest could benefit the local economy by up to $700,000 ­ a welcome boost in the traditionally slower winter season.

This year’s Grand Final includes five Lincoln University graduates. All seven have made it to the Grand Final through a rigorous process of District and Regional Finals, where they had to prove themselves among their peers.

Bruce McDougall, who has been Contest Manager for the past five years, says there is a real buzz in the air in Timaru as the city prepares to host the event.

“This is the first time since 1996 we have held the Grand Final in Timaru, and we are expecting a great reception from the people of South Canterbury. After all, this is part of New Zealand’s rural heartland, and people here have traditionally come out in force to support the Contest,” he says.

Local lad Tim Porter, a Pendarves farmer representing the Aorangi region, is sure to garner plenty of local support, but indications are that substantial entourages are accompanying the remaining two South Island contestants, as well as the four North Islanders vying for the title.

“Farming is riding the crest of a wave at the moment, and most New Zealanders are aware of the immense contribution farming makes to our economy. That high profile for our industry makes this year’s Contest even more exciting,” Bruce McDougall says.

“Young Farmers like our seven Grand Finalists hold the key to a sustainable future for New Zealand farming, and it is incredibly exciting to watch them compete over a range of skills,” he adds.

The Grand Final week officially begins on Wednesday, when the seven contestants arrive in Timaru. The following day they face a series of technical challenges, as well as the all-important speech section.

On Friday, the action heads to Timaru’s premier recreation area, Caroline Bay, where a series of practical challenges must be faced before the fast-paced Agrisport event. In this head-to-head race, the contestants must aim to complete a series of tasks as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality.

“The Agrisport has become one of the great spectator sections of the WRIGHTSON AGMARDT YOUNG FARMER CONTEST, and we anticipate a huge crowd at Caroline Bay to enjoy the action and the wide range of entertainment planned for the day,” Bruce McDougall says.

This includes an attempt at building New Zealand’s largest-ever sandcastle at Caroline Bay, aerial topdressing and firefighting displays, and a variety of public participation activities.

The 2002 WRIGHTSON AGMARDT YOUNG FARMER CONTEST ends in style on Saturday, with the Grand Final Show at Timaru’s Theatre Royal, where the contestants pit their general knowledge skills against each other in a last-ditch attempt to gain maximum points before the results of the previous days are tallied to reveal this year’s Champion.

While the winner will be revealed to the live audience early in the evening, the remainder of the country will have the opportunity to view the Grand Final ­ along with segments on each of the previous days’ challenges ­ later that evening on TV One.

This year’s seven Grand Finalists are:

Auckland quantity surveyor Daniel Gardner ­ Northern Region Waikato agriculture consultant James Allen ­ Waikato/Bay of Plenty Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Kynan Thomsen ­ East Coast Wanganui sheep and beef farmer Mike Cranstone ­ Taranaki/Manawatu West Coast dairy farmer Colin van der Geest ­ Tasman Ashburton sheep and crop farmer Tim Porter ­ Aorangi Invercargill dairy farm manager Robert Kempthorne ­ Otago/Southland

They will compete for the prestigious title and a prize package worth $79,695 (from a total Grand Final prize pool of $129,395).

Ends

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