Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The A & P Show

The Agricultural and Pastoral Show has been an annual event in many parts of New Zealand for over 150 years. In some places they're now quite heavily commercialised, and marketed as a tourist attraction to city folk, but some are much closer to their origins.

Warkworth is a small town north of Auckland, named for Warkworth in Northumberland. Their show is one that's kept much of the flavour of the old A & P Shows, as we found when we went there in late January.

There were stalls with farming machinery; a wider range of food than my characters would have recognised; and a few rides for the children. But the competitions for jams and preserves would have been familiar to Amy and Lizzie, and children were enjoying old-fashioned games like sack races. And a large area of the grounds was devoted to what was the most important part of the original A & P shows: the livestock.

Those 19th century farmers would have been taken aback by one group of livestock; alpacas might have looked like sheep in fancy dress to them:

But the Show had a good turn-out of cattle, and judges who gave expert advice on breeding lines and care of stock. And owners who are no doubt as proud as the Victorians were:

More on A & P Shows, and an account of an early one from my own Mud and Gold, here.

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