The Blayney Agricultural Show

Before I moved to the country, the only agricultural show I had ever visited was the Royal Easter Show. As a child I went along for the rides and as an adult, I went to take my daughter. I never paid much attention to the agricultural displays and probably only watched the sheep dog trials.

Since I have been in the Central West of NSW, I have been to at least one if not three shows each year. Admittedly, I first started going because the children at my school had entered artwork but once there, I began to understand that each town’s show has a slightly different flavour and that the locals have great pride in the competitions they run on the day.

The Blayney show was founded in 1878 and this year was the 144th annual show. Not even Covid could stop the show. Somehow, they managed to run the event just before the lockdowns of the past two years.

Volunteers run the show year in, year out. I have met members of the organising committee who have committed their time and organisational skills for decades. It is mainly retirees who volunteer on the day, and many are glad to share a story or two with anyone willing to listen.

I missed the sheep dog trials in the morning, but I did see the pedigree dogs lining up to be judged. There were some stunning dogs among them and of course some that I couldn’t quite warm to. What I did enjoy was watching young girls handle their dogs expertly in the ring as they competed against seasoned adults. It must take a lot of work and courage to prepare for such events.

While there were no boys entering their dogs, there were plenty of young chaps handling cattle. They all wore cowboy boots, checked shirts and large hats, emulating their fathers. Even their walk was the swagger of an older man as they made their way to and from the sheds. While amusing on one level, it did display the strongly gendered roles that are still evident out in the country.

There were stunning horses of every colour with coats that glistened in the sun. Their tails were either beautifully brushed or plaited. Horses are magnificent creatures to watch and once again, there were many young people who were entering these events.

I found it fascinating to walk through the wool, vegetable, and poultry sections. There were ribbons on some entries indicating a first or second prize. I often couldn’t tell the difference between one bird or another or one fleece from the other. I don’t understand the judging criteria nor what to look for in these categories. These are clearly specialised skills that people have developed over many years.

I am but an outsider looking in at a tradition which I don’t really understand. I saw people catching up with each other, possibly for the first time since the last show and appreciate that these shows build social cohesion in a community. I also saw many older people volunteering and exhibiting but also some young ones taking an interest in the competitions. I wondered whether the younger generation would continue to volunteer their time and build up the skills needed to run the show.

Judging by the number of cars and the crowds, the attendance was high. But money is tight, and I saw many stall holders without customers to buy their wares. There’s also the issue of a changing population. Some country towns are in steep decline while others have become popular with urban dwellers looking for a different lifestyle. These ‘blow-ins’ are a bit like me, they have come from the city and have made a choice to live in the country where the pace is slower, the air is clean and property prices are still somewhat affordable. I wonder whether they will embrace the traditions of the bush or see them as a quaint hangover from yesteryear.

4 thoughts on “The Blayney Agricultural Show”

  1. This took me straight back to watching the tussle between a youngster battling a muscular young animal not at all impressed by its noisy, strange environment. Moving restlessly in circles while the poor child with bright red cheeks (perhaps aware of getting a ribbing later) struggled to get it to line up with the other animals. I admire these youngsters bravely facing the public and family gaze while coping with a creature of many times their size and strength it may be a prize in itself to walk the arena but also quite a challenge. No technology could equal it.



    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been to many a show. Liverpool use to be considered the country and growing up on a small farm I use to attend the equestrian events. Funnily enough I didn’t spend much time at the other sections. Your story captures country life beautifully. Thanks Viki

    Liked by 1 person

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