Bye Bachelor, here’s Eira

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by Alexia Johnston

Rangitata dairy farmer Eira Lloyd-Forrest will put her ATV, cooking and dog-handling skills to the test when she vies for the Golden Gumboot later this month.

Miss Lloyd-Forrest will compete for the coveted trophy and also the title of Rural Catch 2018 when Fieldays returns to Mystery Creek on June 13-16.

Although the Golden Gumboot trophy has been doing the rounds for many years, it is the first time the title of Rural Catch has been offered.

The event replaces the Rural Bachelor, making way for a joint male and female competition.

Miss Lloyd-Forrest is looking forward to the challenge and welcomes the introduction of the new competition, which she says will put both sexes on a level playing field.

“It’s about time, really,” she said.

“I think there’s enough of us in the industry to give it a crack.”

Miss Lloyd-Forrest, who works on an 850-cow dairy farm, studied at Telford 10 years ago, following in her father’s footsteps.

He was the youngest known Telford student when he attended aged 15.

Miss Lloyd-Forrest’s Welsh ancestry, on her mother’s side, also prompted her to study in the UK, before finally settling into farming life in South Canterbury.

She was surprised to learn she was the only South Island representative in the competition. However, she believed that could give her an advantage as she prepares to do the South Island proud, not just South Canterbury.

The public will get a chance to vote for their preferred competitor, so Miss Lloyd-Forrest hopes those votes go her way.

Competitors have to be single to compete, as was the case for men competing in the former Rural Bachelor competition.

The all-expenses-paid competition starts for the Rural Catch finalists on June 10 with the Farmlands Roadtrip, which gives the contestants the chance to try their hand at various challenges before the serious stuff begins on the first day of Fieldays.

This year the competition will feature the traditional challenges, including fencing, quad bike skills and dog handling, as well as challenges involving tractors and cooking.

Fieldays Rural Catch event manager Lynn Robinson was impressed by the calibre of this year’s applicants

“We had an encouraging number of entries from all over New Zealand and from various agri-sectors including dairy and sheep and beef drystock,” she said.

She said it was a challenge to narrow it down to just eight finalists.

“The women are especially talented. I’m sure they’ll give the guys a run for their money.”