photo courtesy The New Zealand Agricultural Show

Showing the way to our agricultural future

by Andy Bryenton

It’s the biggest show of its kind to be found in the South — in fact, it’s such a monster of an event, backed up with such history and gravitas, that long ago the powers that be decreed that the time it’s held each year should be a public holiday. It’s the New Zealand Agricultural Show — a fresh new name for an event held for over one and a half centuries by the prestigious Canterbury A&P Association.

Since humble beginnings as a cattle show in 1853, the show has always been about showing the path to the future and introducing the countryside’s best to the town.

Decade by decade the show has grown, and this year the change of name over the big marquee coincides with the biggest schedule of events, competitions and surprises ever. Just running the numbers shows a list of superlatives — 2017 saw in excess of 100,000 visitors pass through the gates, taking in exhibits and stalls set up by more than 550 businesses and groups. At the same time, more than 1,200 competitors brought their very best to be judged, from the ring to the tasting table and beyond.

Just planning to see as much as possible each day is a mammoth undertaking. The show’s organisers have packed in tons of entertainment, from live music to magic and circus arts to delight people of all ages. Thrill to the competition in the equestrian arena, take in the pride of some of nation’s top livestock breeders as they vie for the coveted ribbon of victory, or marvel at the sheer power of the contestants in the Canterbury’s Strongest Man tourney. As if that’s not enough, an entire carnival will rise from the showgrounds as well, adding a touch of the midway in the style of America’s immense state fairs.

Nevertheless, there’s a serious side to this event as well — a core principle which has come down through the years and still sits at the heart of what the New Zealand Agricultural Show is all about.

That’s pride in progress, and a focus on the future of farming. You’ll see it in the cutting edge machinery on display, offering new ways for farmers to be ever more productive and sustainable.

You’ll be able to sit in on thought-provoking seminars at the Blinc Innovation Hub, where topics crucial to the future of the primary industries will be laid out by true experts in their fields. Moreover, you’ll see it in the way that the show and its exhibitors are reaching out to a new generation through school engagement and close ties with tertiary programs.

This show has always been a place where futures are decided, from innovations brought to the public eye through to careers established. This year will be no exception.

The fun goes on around all this serious agricultural forum, though — from modern sports like endurocross, where champions compete on motorcycles, through to the ancient art of medieval combat, complete with armoured knights. In between, there’s plenty of opportunities to get involved and test your own mettle at homegrown sports like the gumboot toss. Of course, what show would be complete without a multifaceted feast of fine food and drink, much of which comes from the fertile lands of Canterbury? Gourmands will be spoiled for choice!

It’s all happening very soon — on Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday, 16 November. The show will be open from 8am to 5.30pm each day at its ancestral home, the showgrounds in Wigram. Visit theshow.co.nz for free parking details and bus times to get you and the family into the thick of the action!

The Record has two great ways for you to win passes to this massive event as well! To be in to win a family pass — including parking — get the kids to complete the colouring competition on the adjacent pages, then scan or photograph the finished masterpiece and email it to comp@integrity.nz along with your name and phone number.

Alternatively, to score a chance at a double pass — also including parking — find the Agricultural Show icons hidden through this paper — five in all — and send the page numbers they’re found on along with your name and phone number to comp@integrity.nz. We’ll draw two lucky winners in time to send them to the show!