Gallops – and they’re off and racing! 11th November marked the beginning of the NZ Cup and Show Week 2017 in Canterbury. Every year during the middle of November, Canterbury celebrates the province’s anniversary holiday.

Will you be going to the A & P Show or having a flutter on the horses? I love the gallops events at Riccarton Park Racecourse. The thrill of their speed pumps my adrenaline.

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Serious business at the A&P Show

For most of us a trip to the Show means a good day out with picnics and a look at the exhibits, maybe a go on the sideshows for the kids. For competitors however, it’s a serious business. Winning prizes for your livestock can make a big difference to your farming business. It is easy for the rest of us to forget that this is the whole point of it.

Some things have changed though. These days it’s not just sheep, cattle, pigs and horses. While members of my family used to head out at some ungodly hour of the morning to look after their sheep, now it is their alpacas. But marketing is what it is all about and always has been.These chaps weren’t there for the fun of it. Selling is big business at the show and of course if you’re a farmer and keen on anything that has wheels, well who could resist all that lovely machinery?

Showing out: the 1886 Canterbury A&P exhibition

We’ve just digitised the programme for the 1886 Grand November Show : to be held in the grounds of the Association, Colombo Street, Christchurch. This was the last show held in Sydenham, in 1887 it moved to Addington, then in 1997 it moved to Wigram.

Delving into the programme, I note the General regulation number 9 states: Persons in charge of Machinery worked by steam power must use coke. Hmmm. And number 30 consoles childless cows and sheep with the possibility of winning a prize for being fat:

Any Cow or Ewe which is barren shall not be eligible to take a Prize, except in the Fat Stock classes.

There are some Private Prizes on offer too. I quite like the Lyttelton Times Cup for the best sample of Hams and Bacon. I wonder if there was a super fry up after (or before) judging. This would have gone quite nicely with the prize for the best assortment of pickles.

I include this advertisement from the programme. It shows the classic Victorian typeface pileup which I love (follow my posts on the 1902 Tourists’ guide to Canterbury for more typographic gems).