Bay of Islands show turns 175
New Zealand’s oldest celebration of all things agricultural is set to mark its 175th birthday.
The oldest show which continues to feature equestrian, livestock and produce competitions as well as family activities was thought to be established in 1842, with the first gatherings in Okaihau.
The Waimate North Show run by the Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Association is now well established at the showgrounds in Waimate North with a backdrop of puriri trees and the show hall which still stands after it was constructed in 1891 for under $200 (or at the time 78 pounds one shilling and sevenpence).
Over the years more traditional events such as side-saddle equestrian and fat lamb competitions have waned with new initiatives established such as a food and wine festival - although side saddle is making a return for this year’s event.
The 2017 show will feature equestrians (of several breeds) and cattle events which have been granted Royal status by the Royal Agricultural Society. It will begin with some horse events on November 10 with the main festivities on November 11.
Trade sites, a heritage section, live music and other activities will round out the day’s entertainment, along with special presentations to long-serving volunteers.
President Don Jack, who rode to his first show from Pakaraka in the 1950’s, says the show’s setting is beautiful.
‘‘Not only the hall, but the old puriri trees, the whole setting is quite unique,’’ Jack says.
He says it’s a great family day out.
‘‘We try to cater for all ages, in terms of the selection of animals and entertainment. It’s the first spring show, so everyone can come and have a jolly good day out.’’
Jack says the winners in the royal equestrian and cattle events will receive a royal sash and ribbon.
‘‘It will be very prestigious for winners to have that in their trophy cabinet,’’ he says.
The show comes after 12 months of hard work by the committee and a loyal band of volunteers who he says hold the show near and dear to their hearts.
Up to 6000 people went through the show’s gate last year, and an estimated 400 animals. Gates open at 8am November 11.
The show volunteers at a recent working bee.
Lucy Hingston (nee Nutsford) with Killarney, this photo is thought to be taken around 1900.