Rand Show celebrates 120th
Y first trip to the Rand Show was 33 years ago as a young urchin itching for mischief.
I was 14 and looking for trouble. Boarding school life was boring and a few mates and I decided to go see the show, which was held where Wits University s West Campus is today.
There was no way the boarding school master would have given us permission to go, so we sneaked out in the wee hours.
We had no cent to our name, so we hitchhiked. I remember walking with my jaw almost on the floor, amazed at all the rides and other cool stuff.
Twenty seven years later, I returned to the show, now at Nasrec.
I met a very old man with an ice cream cone in his hand and looking as bedazzled as I was during my first visit.
Beautiful, innit?” I ventured. He looked at me and smiled with his eyes sparkling like Champagne.
He must have been about 90, all wrinkly and bow-legged.
Amazing,” he said, not taking his eyes off me. It wasn t always as big as this.”
It is said that the first Rand Show of 1894 wasn t quite the entertainment spectacular it is today.
Initially it was just a display of horticulture, but in a town that was barely 10 years old, the occasion caused quiet a stir.
Anybody who was somebody had to be seen there.
The brainchild of the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society, the 1894 event, held at the Wanderers Club, saw local horticulturists showing off their green thumbs with displays of plants, flowers, fruit, table arrangements, posies and gardening equipment.
History has it that Paul Kruger, the president of the Transvaal Republic at the time, opened the show that year.
Thousands descended on the showgrounds, where displays of livestock, poultry, dairy products, bees, ornamental plants and trees, farming equipment, and wagons and coaches awaited them.
In the decades that followed, the Rand Show added manufacturing and industrial displays.
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