Organisers of the Australian Banana Packing Championships are tipping record crowds at this year’s event, after the unique contest gained international exposure in 2016.
Held each year at the Innisfail Show, the championships are believed to be the country’s only contest showcasing the banana industry’s packing skills, pitting Innisfail against Tully over two nights of fierce competition.
Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) director Jade Buchanan said the show-stopping event was expected to draw even greater crowds this year after a video of the contest – produced by the ABGC – went viral last year.
“The video was uploaded onto the ABGC Facebook page and within days reached more than 20,000 people across Australia and the world,” Ms Buchanan said.
“The championships are one of the most popular events at the Innisfail Show and certainly brings the house down during the finals and the very colourful backpacker competition on the Friday night,” she said.
The main event sees 12 teams of two – six from Innisfail and six from Tully – competing over two nights (today and tomorrow), with the fastest three teams going into a final showdown tomorrow.
During the contest, each team is given two bunches of bananas which they must cut and pack into three cartons. Competitors are given scores from five judges on all aspects of packing including presentation, speed, team work and wastage.
The championships also include a backpacker competition, where local hostels nominate competitors, who are generally dressed in themed attire and draw a vocal crowd of spectators.
“The backpacker contest is a spectacle in itself. It draws a very large crowd of international backpackers, who cheer from the stands and create a very excited atmosphere. It is a great way to end the two days of competition,” Ms Buchanan said.
Teams in the main packing contest will vie for $2000 in prize money for the winning team and $1000 for the runner up team.
The event will be held in the Banana Exhibit area, where local growers will display their fines produce. Judging for the Banana Exhibit will be held today (July 13), following an official weigh-in last night.
The banana packing championships will be held tonight from 5.55pm and tomorrow (July 14) from 4.50pm.