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140 years celebrated

EMILY NORMAN

It’s going to be a huge year for the Wairarapa A&P Society, launching into their 140th show this weekend.

And not only is it their 140th year, it is also the 40th show to be held at the Clareville Complex after shifting from central Carterton in the 70s.

The Wairarapa A&P Society. PHOTO/BELINDA PRATT
The Wairarapa A&P Society. PHOTO/BELINDA PRATT

President David Ellison said over the years, a lot had changed, but most noticeable was the dress code.

“When I was a lot younger, the ladies would go out and buy their new summer outfit and wear it to the show.

“It was always the first event around leading into summer and it was usually good, fine, hot weather.

“As kids we would be dressed up, and the men would wear suits.

So, the dressing side of it has certainly changed.”

The concept behind the show however, has not changed too much, Mr Ellison said.

“We’d like to bring town to country.”

The show helps showcase the best aspects of rural life, and bridges the rural-urban divide which is becoming increasingly bigger as the years go by, he said.

This show, running from October 27 to 29, will be Mr Ellison’s third show in a row as president.

“In saying that, I was president back around the 2000s for at least two years – I’m being recycled,” he joked.

Since the 2000s the equestrian side of the show, which kicks off on Friday, has “increased a lot”, but stock numbers have dropped “a little bit”, he said.

“We try to put on more entertainment now. The public have a lot of choice now in what they do.”

Wairarapa A&P Show patron Mick Raynar has been going to the show, since he was “in a pram”.

He was president during the final show in central Carterton and said when he first joined the Wairarapa A&P Society, there were about “60 blokes on the committee”.

“I’ve always said, never underestimate a woman, and how true has that been.

“I think in our committee now, of about 20 people, more than half are women.

“We’ve got a woman secretary, and woman treasurer, which would never have been heard of back in the day.

“Ladies have done a great deal for the show, and we’re very proud of the efforts of our committee and other people who have helped us over the years.”

One such woman, who has been involved with the show since she can remember is Dale Collie.

“I remember coming as a tiny child. I was born in November, so I would have missed that show, but after that, I’ve always come.

“My father used to breed cattle, so we were brought up with the show. Show time was a very big part of the year, always.”

She said her mother had four daughters, and would sit up until 2am making dresses for them because “you had to have a new dress for the show”.

Mrs Collie said the biggest change she had seen over the years was that the show had become “a bit more commercial” – “but it’s still an A&P show”.

“There’s still the horses, the cattle, sheep, and we have a lot more trade sites than we used to.”

Bridging the rural-urban divide was something Mrs Collie loved to see in action at the show.

“We’re trying to get the city people more aware of rural life.

“Children come from Wellington and some have never seen a lamb or a calf – that’s why we have a pet corner, they just love it.”

The Wairarapa A&P Show starts on Friday October 27 with the Equestrian events, home Industry judging, wood-chopping and shearing preparations, and gates open at 5pm for the Night Show.

Saturday October 28 and Sunday October 29 are the family days with plenty of entertainment, livestock judging, shearing and wood-chopping competitions, dog trials, and so much more.

On Saturday night, the inaugural Hoedown will take place.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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