With a bit of encouragement from her friend, 19-year-old Debra Mortimore (nee Cox) found herself standing on the back of a truck at the Yarrawonga Show, competing in Miss Showgirl.
Wearing a shirt she had made herself, finished off with a skirt and heels, the young woman looked out on the sea of fold-up chairs as the locals enjoyed the competition.
No stranger to the show, having entered art competitions and enjoyed exploring the crafts and livestock, it was nevertheless a new experience for the young woman when she was crowned Miss Showgirl at the 1981 Yarrawonga Show.
Following on from her win, the chance to gain the title of Miss North East Showgirl resulted in Mrs Mortimore travelling to Rutherglen along with other winners from regional shows.
‘‘The other girls were all a bit nervous and excited, as was I,’’ she said.
Following an interview with the panel of judges, Mrs Mortimore was ultimately awarded the title later that evening.
‘‘It was a thrill to think I would be competing in the big smoke ... It was a great experience, being a country girl and getting to go to Melbourne.
‘‘It was so nice to meet so many interesting and independent young women throughout the competition.’’
Although she did not win the ultimate title, Mrs Mortimore said it was a wonderful experience that connected her with a number of new friends from across the state.
Still residing in Yarrawonga, Mrs Mortimore travels to Melbourne for work and has raised two daughters and a son, who themselves have continued to be involved in the show.
■The RASV is looking for former Miss Showgirls to celebrate the competition’s 60th anniversary. Contact Annette Shiell by email at email@example.com or by phone on 9281 7427.
■To share your showgirl story with Country News, phone Alana Christensen on 5820 3237 or email firstname.lastname@example.org