A tremendous night that paid tribute to those who have shown resilience through fire and drought and now flood ended with two young ladies winning their spot as Zone 2 representatives in the annual Sydney Royal Showgirl competition.
Hosted by the Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association at Hawkesbury Race Club on Saturday night, 160 guests witnessed Eliza Babazogli from Hawkesbury and Emily Quinn from Milton named winners of the The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Zone 2 final.
The girls were chosen from a strong field of showgirls, each with great stories that made the judges' decision extremely difficult.
The full day of competition saw twelve girls from the zone - which covers 22 regions as far afield as Hawkesbury, St Ives and Milton - compete for a place in the state final.
Eliza comes from a strong farming background and has a keen interest in equestrian competition. She has a real passion for the racing industry in which she works as a sponsorship executive and as board member of Young Professionals in Racing. She is also involved in Simmental breeding.
The girls were interviewed numerous times throughout the day, and attended a judges luncheon earlier in the afternoon and the main dinner that night.
"It's an amazing experience, so special," Eliza said.
"It is a great opportunity to represent the Hawkesbury and Zone 2. All the girls there were great. They were all very knowledgeable and very passionate.
"The final interview, was on stage ... and we were asked three questions."
The talking prompts were: tell us about yourself; sell your region in 60 seconds; and what do you think is the biggest issues in agriculture.
Eliza drew on her extensive knowledge of the Hawkesbury, from having grown up here and having links to the community to sell the area and spoke on the issue of PFAS contamination.
"I was able to put a spotlight on the area ... on a topic I believe is important. There was a great variety of people to share with," she said.
"I think that really set me apart and made my answers unique. It was a long day. I was the last up but the adrenaline kept me going.
"I'm looking forward to the intense week. There will be a lot we get to experience. The sponsors and the support we have received from the community has been great. It was great to see the Hawkesbury on display."
A number of special guests attended the dinner including Macquarie MP Susan Templeman and Hawkesbury mayor Barry Calvert.
As a gesture of goodwill, Hawkesbury Agricultural Association split takings from the night's raffle between the Kiama, Berry and Albion Park show societies, which were unable to hold shows this year.