Show attracts record numbers

by Kent Caddick

This year’s Ellesmere Spring Show has attracted record numbers to the annual event run by the Ellesmere A&P Association at the showgrounds in Leeston.

Organisers are estimating a crowd of around 20,000 passed through the turnstiles at the event, which has been going for almost 150 years.

This year’s show president Doug Michael said it was hard to get a really accurate attendance figure.

“At the gate we only charge people over the age of 12, so we don’t have a count for those under that age, and also there are all the contestants, show entrants, exhibitors, judges, stewards and members of the association. “But, having said that, our estimate would be around 20,000.”

Mr Michael said they made a number of changes this year to make the show more inclusive including a new layout and new competitions particularly for the younger generation.

A regular favourite at the Ellesmere Spring Show is always 
the Ellesmere Pipe Band

“I have been on the A&P Association committee for over 14 years and one of the things I have noticed is that there is a perception in the wider community that it is some kind of exclusive organisation. “It is not, and we want to be inclusive and ensure that we cater for the changing demographics of the ellesmere and wider Selwyn community.”

He said to do that one of the things they have changed is the branding of the show to the Ellesmere Spring Show rather than A&P Show.

“It is a big event for the whole of the Selwyn district and the good thing is hat it still retains the intimate feel of a family show.”

While show entries for many of the stock categories were down Mr Michael said that has been balanced with new events on the programme.

“It is not like the old days when farmers bought along their stock to find a buyer as now a lot of that is being done online.

Country singing star Jody Direen was a hit with the show crowd

“We still want to look after the traditions of the show as the people who keep coming back to the show still look for that nostalgia as it may have been where they had their first kiss on the ferris wheel or where they got engaged. 

“But we have also got to make sure we look after the wider community and show them the show is not just about an exclusive group of landed gentry walking around the ring in their moleskins — it is about the whole community coming together. At the end of the day it costs a huge amount of money to run these events, so we can’t just rely on traditions and need to put on an entertaining day to draw the crowds, which in turn keeps the sponsors and trade exhibitors happy.”

He said some of the new events like the Selwyn’s Got Talent completion, extending the Top Teams Sports Challenge to include schools from outside Ellesmere, and providing entertainment like country singing star Jody Direen widens the appeal of the show.

Mr Michael said he has enjoyed his year as show president as he relishes the challenge.

“It was a walk in the park compared to running a business and in part that is due to the awesome committee that is really passionate and a lot of people from the local community who get involved, and I need to thank them for that.”

The highlight of the show for him was riding an old traction engine for the Grand Parade.

Leeston School students put in a big effort for the tractor 
pull during the Top Team Sports Challenge

Axemen attack their logs during the woodchopping competition

There were plenty of scarecrows for sale at the show

Ladbrooks School pupils, Finn Henry (left) and Molly Sankey, 
competing in the Muster Chef competition