By Casey Neill
“Stop milking! Step away from your cow!”
It’s a phrase not commonly heard in suburban Dandenong, but once a year the country comes to town and brings with it these catch-cries.
The Dandenong Agricultural and Pastoral Society held its 146th annual Dandenong Show at Greaves Reserve on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November.
Dandenong Show cattle chairwoman Melissa Ferris, armed with a microphone, instructed the dairy competitors as they showed off their cattle’s milk-producing ability.
There were 27 entries in the dairy section this year, Ms Ferris said, and beef entries were up on last year at about 33.
“Every class had four to eight head in it, so it was quite competitive,” she said.
“There’s eight exhibitors in the dairy section and there were about 15 exhibitors in the beef section.”
Melissa is married to former show president Ricky Ferris. They met at the show as children.
Her grandmother, Winsome Anderson from Nar Nar Goon, said her family had been showing at the event for 127 years.
Melissa and Ricky brought their son Austin along this year. Melissa’s brother Patrick, 16, won junior champion for the first time.
“We have four generations of the same family here today,” Ms Anderson said.
In the animal nursery, curly-haired toddler Paddy marches across the pen and abruptly bends over, his short body contorted in half and his head almost touching the hay-strewn floor.
“Hello, goat!” he says to a thankfully-subdued kid.
Bentleigh couple Katie and Andy couldn’t wipe the smiles from their faces as their son made new animal friends.
“He’s already had a go on the rides,” Katie said.
“He loved the dogs. He sat there for about 45 minutes watching them.”
Andy said: “He was a bit of a fan of the scones as well.”
Andy is from Sydney and had never been to the show. Katie used to go when she was little and growing up in Dandenong North, and relished the chance to introduce her son to the event.
Asked which animal was his favourite, Paddy didn’t need to ponder.
“The chickens!” he exclaimed with a grin.
The committee halved entry fees and offered half-price ride ticket periods to entice attendees and bolster declining crowd numbers.
Dandenong Show president Sue Glenn said: “There was a very positive vibe out there.”
“We’re very, very pleased with the attendance.”
Ms Glenn said police were happy with crowd behaviour. She thanked the show’s volunteers and sponsors.