Half a century ago, when Barbara Manwaring was just 17, she stood before Junee with the showgirl sash proudly over her shoulder.
The following year, she stood proudly once again before the crowd at the 1969 Sydney Royal Easter Show with another sash fixed firmly upon her.
Ms Manwaring’s journey to the Sydney Showgrounds included June Dally Watkins’ own deportment classes. She has carried one piece advice from Australia’s queen of etiquette.
“She used to say that a lady should always have enough money in her pocket to pay the taxi fare if her partner got drunk on a night out. I still joke about that.”
Ms Manwaring remained friendly with the other 19 contestants in Sydney, even attending some of their weddings. But she admits a lot has changed since she wore the sash.
“I think it’s a lot more competitive now. Perhaps the girls don’t make as many lifelong friends these days.”
This year will mark the 130th annual Junee Show. The show girl component has been held consistently since the inauguration, making it the longest running contest of its kind in the state.
“I was raised on a farm, I wasn’t a career girl. When I’d finished school, my father provided a small wage for me to help my mother in her garden. The [show] girls today tend to be a lot older.”
The community spirit is something that has endured since the show’s early incarnation. In the years that followed Ms Manwaring’s return to her hometown, she started to see a notable absence in the community.
“I could see the need for a preschool in town. So I approached a few people in town to make it happen.”
That legacy was left inside the RSL Memorial Preschool, where she also worked until she married at age 21.
“The show gave me that extra confidence to do a bit more in the community. I’d always felt as though I grew up in my sister’s shadow, until then.”
Ms Manwaring is the youngest of three children, with a brother sitting in the middle of the two-and-a-half year birth order.
“I think everyone has something to contribute to society, but many just need that extra push to find what it is,” said Ms Manwaring.