THE winner of this year’s 2014 Orange Showgirl competition Melanie Gooneratne says she’s surprised to have taken out the top prize in this year’s competition.
“I really just entered the competition to challenge myself and have a new experience,” Ms Gooneratne said.
Ms Gooneratne, who is studying for her masters degree in business, said she would encourage other young women to take part in the competition next year.
“I couldn’t recommend it more highly,” she said.
Competition runner-up Samantha Theobald, who attends the Orange Show every year, said she loved being involved in one of the show’s key events, and it provided a perfect opportunity to “get more involved in the community”.
Ms Theobald, who works for Newcastle Permanent and studies psychology, said out-dated perceptions about what it takes to be a showgirl are wrong, with all of this year’s competitors and last year’s winner, all holding degrees or studying at university.
Outgoing Orange Showgirl Natasha Wannan said she’d met a lot of great people over the past year.
“I’ve had a fabulous time,” she said.
“I’ve also become much more confident when it comes to public speaking.”
Ms Wannan says she’s “passionate about rural Australia” and used her time as Miss Orange Showgirl to work towards bridging the gap between rural and metropolitan Australia.
The co-ordinator of the showgirl competition Melissa Strangwidge said when selecting a competition winner, judges were looking for someone that’s community minded.
“It’s not a beauty pageant,” she said.
Mrs Strangwidge said the competition aims to find the woman who’s most suited to represent “young rural women in her local area”.
“We look for people who have a genuine interest in rural NSW and the involvement of women in their local community,” she said.
Mrs Strangwidge said contestants were judged on personality, confidence, ambition, life goals, general knowledge, rural knowledge, presentation and speech.
“Candidates are also asked to demonstrate they’ve got some knowledge of their local community and current affairs.”