The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW will award Blue Mountains local, Jodie Van Der Velden with an esteemed Champion of the RAS honour at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Each year the RAS acknowledges and celebrates individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Sydney Royal Competitions and the industries they represent.
Ms Van Der Velden is one of 15 recipients who will be honored at a special event on Friday March 30 with RAS dignitaries and industry representatives.
With a love for chocolate, Ms Van Der Velden opened a chocolate shop in Leura in 2005, focusing on ethically sourced product and fillings made with fresh, natural flavour infusions.
Over the past 12 years Ms Van Der Velden has made her mark on the Sydney Royal Chocolate Show. Starting out as a successful exhibitor, winning overall Champion Chocolate Exhibit in her first year of entry, she soon progressed to judging and took on the role of Chairman of Judges (chocolate) in the Cheese & Dairy section in 2014.
She has continued to raise the standard of the judging process and helped attract sponsorship, allowing the Callebaut Chocolate Competition to become a stand-alone chocolate competition.
“I can see how valuable the chocolate competition is for helping raise the standard in the industry,” Ms Van Der Velden, of Josophan's Fine Chocolates, said.
“Seeing exhibitors take on the feedback they receive and when the level of quality and innovation of their products has increased, we know we’re doing something right, and both the exhibitors and our industry are benefiting.”
President of the RAS, Robert Ryan, said Ms Van Der Velden epitomised everything the show was about: Australia’s biggest celebration of the country’s people, practices and produce.
“The champions of the RAS go beyond winning ribbons and trophies. Many have been a part of the show community for a significant part of their lives.
“The Sydney Royal competitions are the cornerstone of the show and showcase the skill, energy, passion and produce from across rural NSW and beyond,” Mr Ryan said.
“With so many different components to the show, the award recognises those who aren’t necessarily in the spotlight.”
This year 32,000 entrants will compete across 42 competition areas and over 5,500 competition classes, from livestock and domestic animals, to arts and crafts, and woodchopping.
“The support and knowledge the champions bring to their events help make the Sydney Royal Competitions the best of their kind in Australia,” Mr Ryan said.
The Sydney Royal Easter Show runs from Friday 23 March to Tuesday 3 April, 2018.
Tickets for the Easter Show are on sale at www.eastershow.com.au and at Woolworths, and include same day public transport.
Families from the Mountains can make the most of a special Showlink family ticket for $99.50, when you book online until March 22 (a small booking and processing fee applies).
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