Kids shear new experience
Bryce Black has been described as the ‘‘chief stirrer’’ and ‘‘ring entertainer’’ during his long tenure at the Canterbury A&P Show.
The 87-year-old has almost never missed a show and has presided over the movement of horses into the ring for the past 70 years.
Yesterday, the opening day of the 155th event, the Tai Tapu local was in his caravan right on the edge of the Main Arena.
Dubbed ‘‘Bryce’s Box’’, the vehicle is where announcer Justin Brown, with assistance from Black and his wife, Vicki, marshal riders and their horses.
‘‘Don’t quote too many things that happen in this room,’’ Black warned, minutes after running through a series of rhyming jokes.
‘‘They’ve given me a wooden spoon once, because they reckon I’m the chief stirrer in the show grounds.’’
One of the things Black enjoyed about the show was the camaraderie. The fridge in the caravan was stocked with beer, ready to share with friends at the end of the day.
The others were the horses and the sense of family tradition. His grandfather was a past president of the A&P Association, a role his son, Tim, was also taking up next year.
‘‘I love horses and I love people. I like to put something back into the showing world,’’ Black said.
The weather was near-perfect for the first day of the show, something that helped bring through a sizeable crowd.
Event director Geoff Bone estimated upwards of 30,000 people came through the gates, almost a third of the 100,000 visitors predicted over the three days.
‘‘It’s been amazing actually. The weather’s been amazing, the crowd’s been great, and all the exhibitors are happy,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re on track for a great show, so we’re pretty excited.’’
Early in the day, school children got a lesson in shearing, following the lead of James Dwyer as he talked them through the process.
Instead of live sheep, the wideeyed pupils practised their technique on dolls lined up on the stage in the Shearing Pavilion.
‘‘They get to find out where wool comes from. See, they’re wearing woollen jerseys,’’ Murray Hartnell said.
The 76-year-old was helping from the floor, sorting the wool shorn off the demonstration sheep and removing any greasy strands.
Hartnell, a sheep and beef farmer, said he had never missed a show in his life. Like Black, he had a rich pedigree at the event.
‘‘My grandfather was president in 1948, my father was president in 1967 and I was president in 2007.’’
One of the popular attractions of the day, albeit a novelty one, was a demonstration by Donny Stuart, his dog Rose and seven Indian Runner ducks.
Hundreds of people lined the fence at the dog trial area to watch as Rose herded the ducks through a series of obstacles.
Rolleston woman Mereana Rolfe said her two young children, Ryder, 3, and Brock, 2, were amazed by the display.
‘‘They absolutely loved it, they actually kept still and it’s hard to keep them still,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ve never seen anything like it before.’’
Stuart said he started training dogs to herd ducks more than 20 years ago. He had no sheep, and was told by a friend the birds could make a suitable substitute.
‘‘When they get a taste for it, they get addicted. She’s mad on it,’’ he said of Rose, his third duck herding dog.
MetService was forecasting fine weather for today, the second day of the show. It was meant to be cloudy in both the morning and evening, clearing in between with a high of 22 degrees Celsius expected.
Danilo Maksimovich, 6, from St Albans School, shears a toy sheep under the guidance of shearer James Dwyer at the Canterbury A&P Show yesterday.
Bryce Black presided over the movement of horses into the ring for the past 70 years.