SPRING SHOW NEXT WEEK
For wholesome entertainment, providing enjoyment for all members of the family, an agricultural and pastoral show is almost unbeatable. On Wednesday and Thursday of next week, town and country residents of Hawke’s Bay will mingle on the Tomoana showgrounds, where the Hawke’s Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society will hold its annual Spring Show. There is every indication that this year’s function will more than equal pre-war standards.
Hawke’s Bay show is more than a purely district affair, being considered one of the leading shows in the Dominion and attracting visitors and entries from all parts of the North Island.
More than a score of traffic officers will be employed directing the thousands of vehicles which converge on Tomoana, reaching their climax on Thursday, People’s Day, when, given fine weather, the attendance might be expected to reach 30,000.
Entries, well in excess of last year’s indicate that the competitive spirit, which is the life-blood of the society, continues to show a steady and healthy expansion. The show will maintain its pride of place as the first of the season in the North Island, and should uphold its reputation as a leading event on the calendar for New Zealand.
Show activities will start almost at dawn on Wednesday, when exhibitors, sideshow-men, and officials begin preparing for the busy two days that lie ahead, although the show itself is only the peak of many months of activity on the part of exhibiting breeders and officials. Much of the judging will be done on Wednesday, and on Thursday the gala will reach its peak.
To give staffs an opportunity of visiting the show, shops and offices in Hastings will close at 11 a.m. on Thursday, and Napier business- houses will observe a full day’s holiday.
Most district schools too will close on Thursday, although the decision whether or not a holiday will be granted rests with the committee of each school. It is an almost unwritten rule, however, that school pupils may expect a full day’s holiday on People’s Day.
An agricultural show is probably one form of entertainment which has gained little in sophistication over the years. Basically it is the same as it was 60 years ago, when horse and gig provided the transport, and when “barkers,” selling patent medicines, provided entertainment now taken over by professional sideshow operators.
People have varied motives for attending the show. Townspeople, in particular, are attracted by the novelty of the ring events, horsemanship, especially jumping, having a wide appeal.
Sheep and cattle provide the main farmer-interest, but it has been observed that the livestock stalls are frequented by large numbers of people who have no direct interest in the exhibits. The dogs are universally popular and so is the poultry section.
For womenfolk, needlework and the home industries have an appeal which is always strong, and for youngsters and the not-so-young, a host of sideshows will do their best to make the outing expensive for the family.
The show has a fascination for children. Both parents and education authorities appreciate this fact, and show day becomes a holiday in the truest sense. Without the children the show would certainly be less colourful, less animated. The showmen in the amusement section would certainly find it less lucrative without the patronage of the younger generation.
Apart from the varied attractions offered at the show, the Tomoana showgrounds always add much to the function. Nearly twice as large as the famous 68 1/2 -acre Sydney showgrounds, Tomoana has been described by competent authorities as among the best show sites in Australasia, and the society and district owes much to the foresight and hard work of past executives in acquiring and developing such attractive grounds.
Since the last show, improvements to facilities have continued, and spacious new shearing sheds have been built.
Of special interest on Wednesday will be the unveiling of a memorial arch over the pathway leading from the showground proper to the Waikoko gardens.
A plaque on the arch will indicate that it is a tribute to the late Mr. William Nelson, a leading Hawke’s Bay farmer, who was responsible for instigating the freezing industry in this district in 1884, and who at one time occupied part of the land now held by the society.
The plaque will be unveiled following a short ceremony, speakers being the society’s president, Mr. F. N. H. Beamish, and a past president, Mr. C. Douglas.
Tomoana showgrounds have not always been the official home of the Hawke’s Bay A. and P. Society. In 1874 the society held a show on recently-acquired grounds in Railway Road, where the Hastings Police Station now stands.
In 1878 the Hastings racecourse property was bought by arrangement with the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club, but was later handed over to the club for £7,500, although the society reserved the right to use it for annual shows.
In 1918, after considerable endeavour to find a more suitable permanent home, the society purchased portion of the present site, 50 acres, for £5319. Several additions to the original area have been made, the largest being the purchase of the Waikoko gardens in 1933. A further 20 acres in Elwood Road was acquired in 1946, bringing the total area to 130 acres. The first show was held on the Tomoana grounds in 1926.
A colourful history, embracing more than 90 years of steady progress lies behind the Hawke’s Bay A. and P. Society. Starting from the humblest of beginnings, the society has kept pace with the development of the agricultural and pastoral industry in Hawke’s Bay, and is now regarded as one of the foremost farmers’ organisations in the Dominion.
The present body could be said to spring from the Ahuriri Agricultural Society, formed in 1858 to import stock from Great Britain. That society did not hold shows, but later the then newly-formed Hawke’s Bay Agricultural Society came into being, and its first show was held at Havelock North in 1863.
It is of interest to note that at that show, entries included 22 horses, 23 cattle, 18 sheep, six pigs, and one pen of poultry.
After 1867 the society languished, to be reformed in 1872 under the present name. The new society’s first show was held at Havelock North.
Next week’s show will be the fore-runner of a larger function next year, when Hastings will be the venue of New Zealand’s Royal Show. Already administrative action on the part of the society’s executive is directed towards the larger effort required next year.
Three Royal shows have been held by the society a Tomoana, the first in 1930, the second in 1936, and the last in 1947. At the latter show conditions could scarcely have been bettered, and there was an attendance estimated at 50,000.
Photo caption – THE LATE MR. WILLIAM NELSON Memorial Arch to Be Unveiled.