Weird Stuff #4 – Blackall, Queensland

Declining interest and waning attendance rates are the curse of Country shows around the nation.  But I’ll bet gun shearer Jack Harvey’s winning performance in the 1934 Blackall Show ‘Quick Chop’ Championship drew the crowds!!

After all, who would pass up the opportunity to see someone shear, kill and partially eat a sheep in under 8 minutes?? The above extract from the ‘Barcoo Independent’, reproduced here in the Blackall Ram Park rail museum makes this claim, anyway! 

But the previous story on the plaque, 45 years earlier, indicates the Barcoo Independent to have been a paper under siege. So is the Jack Harvey piece just a sensationalist attempt to lure readers away from the dastardly ‘Western Champion’? Could his record REALLY be replicated today??

As a regular country show-goer* I have to wonder if reintroducing this event could reverse the decline in country show popularity. General shearing, wood-chopping and sheaf tossing are all very well, but when followed by a piéce-de-résistance like the accurately named ‘Quick Chop Championship’ – well, can’t you just SEE the potential to turn around the fortunes of an ailing show?!

Why not take it a step further?  Could this be a better Aussie national competition than, say, which state can spend the most on a tourism campaign without a clear result?  Or which political party can form government (at any level) with the lowest primary vote??  Or even the new ‘My School’ education website???

Maybe not, but it’s at least as valid!  And not only FAR more entertaining – possibly even less barbaric too!!

But the article leaves some unanswered questions. For example, what part, and how much of the sheep was eaten? And how was it prepared?? Does the 8 minutes include cooking time??? And if other competitors got to the ‘kill’ stage in the 8 minutes, what happened to all the dead sheep????

But I digress.

Congratulations Jack!  Despite competing in the home town of the greatest Australian shearer of all time – Jackie Howe – you’ve still managed to make your own record!!

*Modesty forbids me from mentioning the plethora of prizes (many of them firsts!!) Pilchard and I have won for jams, pickles, preserves and produce in various country shows!

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11 comments

  1. @Andrew – yes, modesty is a precious jewel – so they tell me!!
    @Windsmoke – this is the trend. Apparently, younger people find the planning/organising too time consuming so don’t get involved. Then as the older ones aren’t able to do it, the show quality declines so fewer are interested. Catch 22!
    @Kath – I reckon you’re on to something there!! That’s one way of getting round anyone’s objections!!
    @Starfish – welcome! A glass of wine in 8 minutes? Probably doesn’t matter what else you did …
    @Betty – welcome back, my friend! Best 2u2!
    @Manzanita – yes, every ranch needs a ‘jack’! Fave jam = melon, lemon and ginger!!
    @Kelli – welcome! Come back anytime!!

  2. Where was jack when I ran my fiber ranch? I had angora goats that were a
    challenge to shear. The llamas stood still for me. Don’t be modest. Let’s hear about your jams and pickles. I made some spelt bread in the bread maker yesterday. Wish I had some jam to put on toast this morning.
    Love and peace

  3. I’m on a blog break, just passing by to say hi and wish you a great week ahead!

    Big hugs!

    B xx

  4. 8 minutes? Really?
    I’ve just done a quick time trial of what I can acheive in 8 minutes… One glass of wine, two blog comments and I got up to feed the barking dog. Now I’m too tired to remember what I was supposed to be doing in 8 minutes…

  5. I love a good country show – friendlier, less crowds and noise and plenty of time to look around.

    The sheep shearing, killing and eating thing could indeed be brought back if two MasterChef contestants wandered in and cooked it alfresco, to a specified time limit with the audience voting for the winner….

  6. Used to go to the Whittlesea Show in Victoria a lot but the quality of the stalls and activities declined over time and wasn’t as enjoyable :-).

  7. I pleased modesty prevented you from mentioning your achievements. Think we might go vego for tonight’s dinner.

  8. @Toni – Not that I’m sure I’d ACTUALLY want to see this live (or any other way), but it’s a bit inconsistent, isn’t it? After all, animals are still killed and eaten today …!!!
    @Jayne – Hell, he’d be able to cater an unexpected neighbourhood PARTY!!

  9. May have been a little on the bloody side and I suspect the marinade was missing but what a cook to have at your disposal for when unexpected guests dropped in?!

  10. The mind boggles! Fabios’ mind boggled too, when I read this out to him.
    You know the RSPCA would never allow this competition now, which is pretty sad. Thank goodness Jack got his 15 minutes of fame back in the days before red tape and do-gooders strangled the fun out of everything.

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