Kids shear new ex­pe­ri­ence

The Press - - Front Page - OLIVER LEWIS

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.

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