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The Press - - Front Page - OLIVER LEWIS

Chris Her­bert can claim to be New Zealand’s last man stand­ing when it comes to blonde d’Aquitaine cat­tle own­ers.

He will be one of the coun­try­men com­ing to town to­day when the largest agri­cul­tural and pas­toral show in the coun­try kicks off in Christchurch.

About 3000 an­i­mals – in­clud­ing cows, sheep, goats, horses and pigs – will be groomed, judged and put through their paces at the 155th Can­ter­bury A&P Show over the next three days.

For Her­bert – a 17-year vet­eran of the show and its ju­nior pres­i­dent – this week is a chance to show off a rar­ity of the coun­try’s farm­ing scene.

The spe­cial­ity cat­tle ar­rived from France in the mid-70s, weigh 900 to 950 kilo­grams and are worth about $5000 each.

‘‘They’re the only pure blonde d’Aquitaine left in New Zealand. That’s it, there’s no more.’’

Her­bert kept com­ing back to the show for the com­rade­ship and to catch up with cock­ies he had not seen for years.

‘‘It’s an ex­pen­sive ex­er­cise show­ing cat­tle, it’s not cheap for any­one to bring cat­tle to a show, so you’re pretty com­mit­ted to come here,’’ he said.

Ge­orge Climo, show­ing his mur­ray grey cat­tle, had been at­tend­ing the show for nearly 30 years and said he would keep go­ing as long as he could.

‘‘It’s the en­joy­ment of it, the ca­ma­raderie amongst all the breed­ers and, over the last prob­a­bly seven or eight years, I’ve got heav­ily in­volved with youth and get­ting them go­ing and en­cour­ag­ing them to keep the tra­di­tion go­ing,’’ Climo said.

A&P show or­gan­is­ers had spent the past four weeks erect­ing mar­quees and set­ting up the 42-hectare site at the Can­ter­bury Agri­cul­tural Park in Wi­gram.

Event di­rec­tor Ge­off Bone said the show got big­ger each year and, with the weather fore­cast look­ing good, he ex­pected 100,000 peo­ple to come through the gates. The event played an im­por­tant role in re­unit­ing the coun­try’s ur­ban and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

There had been about 6500 live­stock, fea­ture com­pe­ti­tion, and horse and pony sec­tion en­tries this year, the lat­ter ac­count­ing for nearly half of all en­tries.

‘‘There’s no event like it re­ally where you have that amount of en­tries year-in, year-out. It’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary event,’’ Bone said.

The Can­ter­bury A&P Show re­mained a big deal for busi­nesses, with more than 500 trade ex­hibitors and a city-wide spend es­ti­mated at $16.7 mil­lion.

High­lights to­day in­clude beef and cat­tle breed judg­ing on the ANZ Cat­tle Lawn from 9am, and judg­ing for the All Breeds Supreme Award for horses hap­pen­ing be­tween 2pm and 3pm in the Main Arena. Other events in­clude wood­chop­ping, hap­pen­ing all day at the Stihl Arena, chil­dren’s shear­ing in the Shear­ing Pavilion, and an En­duro­cross motorsport demon­stra­tion in the Main Arena at 1.15pm.

Bone said the En­duro­cross event, a hy­brid sport com­bin­ing mo­tocross and en­durance rac­ing, had at­tracted about

120 rid­ers this year, mak­ing it the largest short-course event in the coun­try.

Many of the big events were sched­uled for Fri­day’s pub­lic hol­i­day – Can­ter­bury An­niver­sary Day – in­clud­ing the Supreme Cham­pion An­i­mal of the Show pre­sen­ta­tion in the Main Arena at

3.25pm.

The Bal­lan­tynes Grand Pa­rade – the show­case of the prize win­ners across most live­stock and eques­trian sec­tions – will hap­pen at 3.45pm in the Main Arena.

The New Zealand Army Band will per­form on all three days, with other musical acts in­clud­ing Ladi6 and the Jor­dan Luck Band tak­ing to the stage on Show Day it­self.

Pub­lic park­ing is free, with ac­cess via Wi­gram Rd, McMa­hon Drive and Tem­ple­tons Rd. Cy­clists and pedestrians only can ac­cess the Curletts Rd en­trance.

Tick­ets are avail­able on the gate. En­try costs $27 for adults, $10 for chil­dren aged 5 to 12, $17 for stu­dents aged 13 and over with stu­dent cards, under 5s can en­ter for free, and on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day only se­niors en­try costs $17.

PHOTO: GE­ORGE HEARD/STUFF

The Can­ter­bury Agri­cul­tural Park in Wi­gram is ready to take thou­sands of peo­ple through the gates to­day.

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