By Jessica Morris

Visions of tug-of-wars, family picnics and face-painting may seem to recall an era gone by, but that is exactly what show-goers can expect at the 130th Masterton A&P Show on February 18 this month.

The annual A&P show has a new president taking the reins, and he is taking the show back to the classics.

This year’s show will be drawing on the nostalgia of A&P shows of the past in order to draw in the crowds.

Masterton A&P Association secretary and manager Grant Poulton promises a day of “a bit of old-fashioned, active, ‘put down your smartphone and just get into it’ fun”.

“We’re really encouraging people to go a bit old school, bring their picnic gear and just have a good time.”

These changes come as the A&P Association is trying to increase the number of visitors to the show.

Mr Poulton says they are hoping to get 5000 people through the gates this year, and admitted they did get “a little bit less” than that last year.

“We want more people, and we’ve priced it so that we hope people will recognise the value”.

One of the new events Mr Poulton is most excited about is the addition of “wall-to-wall live music”, with four different musical acts from 10am until show close.

He is certain that a lively performance from The Rodger Fox Band with Ray Woolf and Erna Ferry will be a crowd favourite.

“I saw them at Toast Martinborough”, Mr Poulton says.

“They really got people up and dancing and enjoying themselves”.

Another new event on offer is the tug-of-war, dubbed ‘The Battle of Solway 2’, which has been garnering a lot of attention.

“There’s been a lot of momentum around that,” says Masterton A&P Association President Peter McWilliam.”

We’ve had lots of enthusiasm from rugby clubs”.

The classic agricultural events will also be back in full force, and Mr McWilliam is confident about the level of competition show-goers can expect to see.

‘Beef stock is going to be huge this year, we have the most entries in fifteen years”.

“We have people coming to compete from Manawatu, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki and of course from around the Wairarapa region.”

Mr Poulton says the appearance of “local boy and iconic kiwi chef” Al Brown is certain to be a highlight for cooking enthusiasts, young and old.

“He will be doing a demonstration in the morning, working with children to create and develop lamb burgers.”

He encourages parents to bring their kids along in the hopes their youngsters will learn to skills required to “make lovely burgers for them later”.

Al with then be doing another demonstration in the marquee around three, showing keen foodies how to make delicious meals using lamb and organic Wairarapa vegetables.

An array of activities to entertain the kids are also available with face painting and even a magician on offer.

There is even an opportunity for the family dog to come along and enjoy the fun in the dog show.

There will be three competitions on the day, working dog, pedigree and family dog.

Mr Poulton says they are “encouraging families to bring their pet pooch along” to get involved in the family dog event.

The equestrian event, which runs from Friday through to Sunday, is expected to be as popular as ever.

Head horse marshal Christine Rowe was feeling positive about the day, and was hoping to see numbers to rival those of last year.

‘We had very good entries last year, around six hundred horses which was really huge.

“So we’re hoping for similar entries this year”.

Equine enthusiasts will not be disappointed with the talent on display, as Ms Rowe says to expect everything from arabs to pintos, from miniature ponies to the beloved clydesdales, which she says are “always a good attraction to the show”.

For those show-goers who may be more interested in the rich history of the show, which has been running since 1885, a treasure trove of Masterton A&P association memorabilia will also be on display, including trophies that date as far back as 1888.

“We will have all the memorabilia we’ve found and resurrected on display for everyone to see”, Mr McWilliam says.

“It’s a great chance to give insight into where we’ve come from, and to tell people where we’re going from here.

“That’s the most exciting part for us”.

Mr Poulton is feeling enthusiastic about the event, and is confident the community will get behind it.

“Basically, we’re putting together an unbeatable, affordable family day out”.

“It will be a magical day”.

The Masterton A&P Show will run from 8.30am to 7pm, February 18 in the Solway Showgrounds, Masterton.

Entry is $10 for an adult, $5 for children and $30 for a family pass.