Ekka win: What makes for a grand champion ute?
A DONE-UP interior may have gotten Anthony De Ruiter across the line not just in his local show at Lowood, but at the Ekka.
The Fernvale lad nabbed grand champion in the ute section for his pewter-coloured 1983 model Toyota LandCruiser HJ47.
"It's an '83 model but it looks like it has just rolled out of the factory,” Mr De Ruiter said.
"It's basically been rebuilt from the ground up.”
During the show, his ute was on display near the showbag pavilion.
"That's probably the most exposure I've ever had and people looked through it,” he said.
Plenty of people commented, offering compliments and asking advice for their own vehicles.
"A lot of people said 'it's a credit to you and I can't believe what you've done with the vehicle', everything was positive,” Mr De Ruiter said.
He said the ute drew attention from people of all ages.
"My vehicle appeals to the young and old,” he said.
"It's a four-wheel drive and a lot of young people like them.”
Mr De Ruiter said his enthusiasm for utes sparked due to their "utility”.
"I've got a few utes, yeah I like a ute,” he said.
Mr De Ruiter said he had eight utes, which he used in his civil contracting business.
"They're just very handy; they take people and material and tools to all my jobs,” he said.
At the Ekka, Mr De Ruiter's ute was one of 44 across the categories.
"They had the local shows and the sub chamber and all the sub chamber ones go to the final to get picked for the Ekka,” he said.
After he impressed judges in the Lowood show in cleanest interior and 4x4 ute classes, Mr De Ruiter took his ute to the sub chamber at the Laidley show where he impressed again and scored his entry to the finals at the Ekka.
He said the utes category attracted a lot of attention at the Ekka but he had gotten the feeling the category was being pushed out.
"The feeling all the ute enthusiasts get from the exhibition is they don't really want us down there but the local shows need the utes because it's a big part of the shows out there,” Mr De Ruiter said.
"Those little shows like Lowood and Laidley... Without the utes, the shows are getting smaller and smaller and the utes bring in a lot of people.”