ARTHUR Johns said he retired in 1993. But the Richmond Hill resident and former farmer travels over 30,000km a year collecting seasonal produce from across northern NSW for an annual display at the Royal Easter Show.
For eight years in a row, Arthur's displays have taken out the Overall Pointscore prize, but he said this year the sugar cane let them down and they had to be content with winning the Effective Arrangement category and the People's Choice award.
The display this year had the theme Country Kids - Future Farmers, and Arthur and his team created an 11m, three-dimensional display that depicts kids playing in a big mud puddle (made from brushed potatoes), kids swinging in a tree and an idyllic country landscape.
He said construction of the front and back wall panels (which are made entirely out of grains) began in January, with the rest of the display built on-site at the Royal Easter Show over nine days.
"We have eight people working on it permanently, plus others coming in the afternoons to help. Plus I always have two students from Nepean TAFE graphic arts and design come and do some work experience," he said.
For the purposes of the displays, the Northern District region goes from the Queensland border to Nambucca Heads on the coast, west to Guyra and Brewarrina and back up to the border.
Arthur travels the region throughout the year collecting seasonal produce for the display, which is then stored in a shed at Tenterfield.
"We have to keep it away from the heat and humidity," he explained.
Prior to the Royal Easter Show, it is loaded in to a 40-foot semitrailer and sent to Sydney. Perishable goods such as meat, cheeses and fruit are sent down to Sydney in their own transport.
Arthur has been involved with the display for 18 years, and this was his 12th as manager.
"I'm an ex-farmer. For 50 years I had farms out at Gilgandra. I get lots of enjoyment out of doing it. I'll keep at it while my health holds up," he said.
- Other North Coast winners at the Royal Easter Show
- John Gibson, of Lismore, won two classes in the poultry competition: Standard Leghorn (white) and Standard Leghorn.
- Geoff Manning, of Bentley, won the best beeswax exhibited in Classes 4 and 5.
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