IT'S a serious business judging at the Ballarat Show and one person who knows what it takes more than most is Alice Pike.
For more than 20 years, Ms Pike from Dunolly has been doing the rounds of agricultural shows, on average at least six each year, judging the best arts and crafts on offer across the state.
At the Ballarat Show this year, she has been charged with picking the best junior arts and crafts, which even includes Lego creations by youngsters from all around Ballarat and the region.
"I've been a CWA judge for the past 21 years," she said.
"The things you look for when you're judging are that it is neat, the amount of work that's been put into it, a great imagination.
"They are all in different categories. Today I'm doing craft, Lego, painting and a lot of handcraft. It's the first time I've judged the children's craft, I've traditionally done embroidery.
"It's a very tough job this year, particularly when I'm looking at children, you want to give everyone a prize."
While Ms Pike is a veteran, at the other end of the spectrum is Ballarat's Morgan Wills, the owner of a Ballarat craft shop, who is judging for the first time this year.
Ms Wills helped judge the knitting, craftwork, felting, weaving, woodwork and leather.
"There's a lot to judge, many many entries," Ms Wills said. "It's really hard to judge. I'm looking for technique, I'm looking for a great use of colour, general presentation and all this is depending on the section.
"There's a lot to take in. You can see the ones who are starting out and you can see the ones who have that little bit extra experience.
"You want to encourage new people but at the same time it's most important to award the best. It's quite difficult."
Ms Wills said her business as a maker for the past 15 years had provided her with invaluable experience, something she was keen to use all of throughout the judging.
"I was invited this year from a member, it's the first one I've done," she said. "It''s quite difficult, really quite hard because you want to give everyone a prize.
"Sometimes it's quite easy but when there are lots of entries it's been very difficult. Probably the knitting section has really challenged me.
"We don't know who the entries are, but there are some beautifully knitted garments that have come through."
Ballarat's Jan Watson said this year had been particularly competitive in the cake making categories.
"Traditionally we have three ginger fluffs, but this year we have 10 to judge," she said.
"It's the look, it's the taste, how much it has risen, the judge cuts them in half and sees how it looks. I think the judge is on a sugar high by the end. It's an incredibly serious business."
YOUR SAFETY IS THE TOP PRIORITY
FOR three days every year Ballarat's young and young at heart make the annual pilgrimage to the Creswick Road showgrounds for the Spring Show.
The fun, games, showbags, entertainment and rides all seem effortless and provide heaps of laughs, screams and scares.
But away from the bright lights of sideshow alley, months of preparation have gone on behind the scenes to make sure everyone is safe and free to enjoy the once a year tradition.
Shows and showgrounds are one of the most rigourously tested venues with WorkSafe inspectors on site before, during and after the events to make sure everyone, from families to entertainers and of course our furry and feathered friends in the animal enclosure remain safe.
Owner of 'The Spook' Australia's largest ghost train - which made its Ballarat debut last year - Trent Woodall said shows were watched incredibly closely to make they were complying with all rules.
"You have your annual engineers inspection, then you have your critical components xrayed, the daily checklists, risks and hazards. It's an incredibly highly regulated industry," Mr Woodall said.
"The ghost train is a bit more gentle but setting it up is regulated incredibly heavily, things such as working at heights and things such as that.
"Statistically, you are more chance of a serious accident with a tooth pick than from a carnival ride. We take it very seriously and we as operators embrace it because there are no second chances."
In August this year, SafeWork SA inspectors ordered four rides,The Beast, Speed 2, XXXL and Extreme to be modified in order to be able to run at the Adelaide Show. Inspectors required extra support on harnesses after they were found to lack a key component which added extra protection in the event of a failure.
While South Australia has the strictest amusement laws in the country, WorkSafe Victoria said it was incumbent on all operators to predict and eliminate risks.
WorkSafe inspects every ride at major regional shows and other areas on the site in order to keep the public safe.
"All amusement ride operators must comply with Victorian regulations to keep staff and the public safe," a spokesperson said.
"WorkSafe runs a robust program to inspect amusement rides at the Ballarat Show to ensure they are being properly maintained and operating safely."
WHAT OPEN AND WHAT'S NOT ON SHOW DAY PUBLIC HOLIDAY
THE City of Ballarat will have a general public holiday on Friday for Ballarat Show Day. A number of services including City of Ballarat offices will be closed for the full day.
All Council Services will be closed Friday except for essential services.
The Visitor Information Centre will have normal hours of operation from 9 am-5pm while personal care appointments will be maintained, however there will be no home care services.
Friday Meals on Wheels will be delivered to clients on Thursday,but Friday rubbish collections will remain as normal.
A City of Ballarat After Hours customer service message system will be in operation throughout the day.
VicRoads customer service centre in Wendouree will remain open as will 24-hour health services including UFS Sturt Street.
The Courier front office will be closed throughout the day and re-open on Monday morning.
BALLARAT SHOW DAY ONE INFORMATION
OPENING TIMES: Friday and Saturday 9.30am-10pm, Sunday 9.30am-4pm, Pavillions close 7pm, Woolworths Family Pavillion and Animal Nursey closes 4.30pm
TICKETS: General Admission - Adult $17, Pension $10, Family ticket: Friday and Saturday: $35 Sunday $30. Children $7, under 5 free. Tickets available on the gate or online at ballaratshow.org.au
PARKING: Car parking will be available along Howitt Street and Creswick Road throughout the three day duration of the show. North Ballarat bus options will also be available, but please be aware of public holiday routes on Friday.
CHEAPEST SHOWBAG: Bertie Beetle Showbag.
FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS: Family Fun Day, Fleece Competition, The Mik Maks, Extreme Cowboys 5.30-7.30pm, Cobb and Co, Western Bulldogs Camel Rides, Cattle judging Wicked Wildlife, McDonald's Family Stage and Meeting Place.
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