SCRUB-UP: Arabelle Solly and Melanie Stevens from Aldridge State High prepare  their cow for show.
SCRUB-UP: Arabelle Solly and Melanie Stevens from Aldridge State High prepare their cow for show. Troy Jegers

Meet our beef leaders of the future

THE perfect steak does not happen by accident.

But the process of producing one can be a lot of fun, as well as hard work.

A crowd of about 270 students, teachers and parents from 50 Wide Bay high schools has gathered at Gympie Showgrounds for this week's big event for the next beef industry generation.

The big contest in Gympie this week is all about mixing business with fun.

Gympie State High School teacher and event organiser Sally Bekker said the three-day competition may be an intense experience for the students, but it is at the same time all about not getting stressed.

It is especially about not getting the animals stressed.

The Gympie District Beef Liaison Group has naming rights for the annual Wide Bay Interschool Hoof and Hook Competition.

This year's event is hosted by Gympie State High School, Victory College, Noosa District State High School and Kilcoy State High School.

And sponsors include a who's who of Gympie region and national agricultural organisations, including Meat and Livestock Australia, the Gympie Carcass Classic, Saddleworld, The Cattle Shop, Gympie Regional Council, Corbet's Group, Nolan Meats, Cavalier Livestock Equipment, Tom Grady Rural Merchandise, Gallagher, Doug Pratt Livestock Transport and Boehringer Ingelheim.

There are two separate contests, one for the students and one for the animals, which are judged both on the hoof in the show ring and on the hook, after being processed at Nolan's East Deep Creek plant.

And although the competition may be tough, the aim is to produce a steak that is anything but.

Sally Bekker said students had come from the whole Wide Bay area and beyond, from Monto to Kilcoy and from Kingaroy to Noosa.

"We have a handler competition where students are judged on their capacity to lead and present the animals professionally, as well as the judging of the animals,” she said.

"We're feeding about 270 people, including 220 students,” said the Gympie High head of Science, Agriculture and Marine Studies.

"We've got kids camped all over the showgrounds, with teachers and parents.

"Our job is to teach the kids how to produce the perfect steak.

"It's all about good nutrition and zero stress.

"A lot of the kids will end up in the beef industry,” Ms Bekker said.