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Posts tagged ‘A&P show’

When the country came to town: Horowhenua A&P Show

Agricultural & Pastoral shows were an annual feature of my rural upbringing. Last year we went to the Masterton show; this year (a couple of weeks ago) we went to one in Levin.

Levin is one of main centres of the Horowhenua District, about an hour and a half north of Wellington. Normally just somewhere you drive through, it was unusual for it to be the destination.

If you’re not too familiar with the A&P show concept, the photos while not definitive should give you a flavour.

Holding pens for the cute and cuddly alpacas

Judges inspect a line of alpacas

A crowd gathers in front of the shearing shed

Shearing competition in progress

Two pink pigs hang out in their pen

At snout level

These wee fellas were only born the previous night

I have a soft spot for pigs as a result of my farm upbringing. When I was much younger I collected pig figurines and for a time did not eat pig meat, but now… well, bacon is delicious. And many years later, after fetching a few boxes and things out of storage, Mike banned my pig collection from entering the house. I sent them to a new (hopefully more caring) home way down south somewhere.

Cows being groomed in front of a shed that displays the ribbons awarded so far

At A&P shows you always find new tractors and old tractors

And near the new tractors, you will often find men in discussion

Gates leading through to the miniature horse base and parade area

The horses may have been miniature in stature but crikey the stallion, um, wasn’t. Those little lady horses were pretty cute though.

An A&P show isn’t complete without all the arts and crafts, which go under the name ‘home industries’. There was so much baking it probably wasn’t the wisest exhibit to visit when hungry.

A selection of the home industries exhibits

I was interested to see that the modern version of the decorated sand saucer competition that I remember entering is now the decorated round wine biscuit competition. More edible, I’ll grant them that.

Probably the highlight for me was the Dog & Duck Show.

The heading dog was directed by his master's whistles and put on an amazing display of control with a group of ducks

The dog had just completed two years of training. For the finale, he separated the ducks by colour and herded each group into a box. Great to watch

A show jumping entrant

We watched a bit of horse action while eating our burgers made by the rural volunteer firefighters

Sooner or later it was inevitable that we’d end up in the amusement park. The boys got a few coupons each from which they had to decide which rides to go on.

So many things to choose from...

An oldie but a goodie, if not the boys' cup of tea

This was though

Unfortunately we missed the sheep racing

After a quick visit to the trade shed to buy lollies and candy floss, we were A&Pd out. Time to go home.

Home time for some four-legged creatures as well

Revisiting a country tradition

I grew up in the country, near a small town called Helensville where every February the Agricultural and Pastoral Show comes to town. Many rural centres in NZ have an A&P show, an event that brings together town and country in an organised mishmash of animals, farm machinery, various outdoor pursuits, arts/crafts/baking, equestrian events, sideshow games and rides, and more.

When I was little, going to the A&P show was a big day out. Prominent memories are decorating sand saucers for the home industries shed, candy floss, getting ripped off at a sideshow game, that game where the clown heads swivel back and forth, shaved ice, buying pet fish one year with a friend, and the ‘Sizzler’ ride.

One can't immediately start with the Sizzler - here I am undergoing some early training at my first A&P show

Anyway I digress: Mike and I saw an ad for the Masterton A&P show and decided to plan a day trip with his children. Mike hadn’t been to a show before and given my vast experience in such matters felt he had to rectify this cultural deficiency.

Masterton is about 1.5 hours north-east of Wellington in a region called the Wairarapa. It’s a nice drive and I love going ‘over the hill’ though we don’t do it often enough.

It was a hot day. The showgrounds were on the outskirts of town and once in the gates and parked, everyone got a liberal dosing of sunscreen. The show attractions were fairly well spread out and our starting point was the main pavilion which housed this year’s bumper crop of home industries entrants. Didn’t see any sand saucers.

For the next few hours we wandered past a man carving wood with a chainsaw, a collection of tractors and old water pumps, horses, sheep, a 4-wheel driving competition, horses, pigs, wool and horses. We spent a bit of time in with the sideshow games and rides to give Josh and Flynn a few new experiences. For me though the day’s highlight was a display of old speedway bikes by their old owners around part of the old speedway track – though the pig judging was also very interesting!

I guess I expected a bigger show, at least compared to Helensville’s, but nonetheless it did confirm that this is one tradition that is still going strong.

It's not an A&P show without tractors

Just one of the many horsey events taking place

A pretty good demo of old speedway bikes especially considering it was on grass

The pig judging was very closely watched - and was actually quite interesting

There's something abhorrent about the clowns but they are quite classic in a way

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