Last A&P show wor­ries ax­e­men

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

Wood­chop­pers are on the hunt for a new stomp­ing ground af­ter news the 2015 Pu­taruru A&P Show will be the last.

Fe­bru­ary 28 will be a bit­ter­sweet date for many in the South Waikato town who will cel­e­brate the show’s 80th an­niver­sary as its fi­nal hur­rah.

The show’s clo­sure will mark a ‘‘ma­jor change’’ in the his­tory of Pu­taruru ax­e­men.

Club pres­i­dent Ge­orge Richards is un­sure what is on the cards for the sport’s fu­ture in the town.

‘‘The fu­ture of wood-chop­ping in Pu­taruru is un­cer­tain at the mo­ment, only time will tell,’’ he said.

The sport dates back more than 100 years in the dis­trict with the club’s estab­lish­ment in 1936. Boom years in the 1980s fea­tured club events which brought in more than 80 wood­chop­pers.

‘‘As a young boy I re­mem­ber the an­nual sports day in Pu­taruru with wood chop­ping and track cy­cling. The cy­clists raced around the ath­let­ics track in the mid­dle of Glen­shea Park.’’ A long list of suc­cess­ful com­peti­tors have staked their claim as Pu­taruru ax­e­men.

That in­cluded the late Dick Honey of Pu­taruru, who chopped for New Zealand in Syd­ney, and his son Lau­rie Honey who set na­tional records for cut­ting in the jig­ger pole, an event where com­peti­tors climb a pole and cut the block from the top.

Lau­rie has a me­mo­rial tro­phy in his name af­ter he was killed in the bush.

Once the sports days ceased, the wood­chop­pers be­came a per­ma­nent part of the show, with a few hic­cups along the way.

‘‘They no longer wanted the ax­e­men at their show. We moved our wood-chop­ping to the front lawn of the Pu­taruru Ho­tel.’’ A few years went by and the club was asked to re­turn. How­ever, this time the end is the real deal and it is time to find a new home.

The club is work­ing with Pride in Pu­taruru on po­ten­tially set­ting up a new date and for­mat.

It’s an end of an era but wood­chop­pers’ sup­port made it all worth it, Richards said.

‘‘Our thanks over the years go out to our peo­ple who work be­hind the scenes do­ing lots of work, and also to our spon­sors. With­out the spon­sors we couldn’t run our chop­ping show.’’

If you would like to know more or help the club phone Ge­orge Richards on 882 1113.

END OF AN ERA: The Pu­taruru A&P show was a home for Pu­taruru Ax­e­men for many years and now they will have to go it alone.

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