A&P date change splits show in two

Horses and ponies will have their own event next year, separate from the main A&P show.

A decision to move the date of next year’s Warkworth A&P Show from late January to March 16 has led to a split between the equestrian section and the rest of the show.

As the new date clashes with the annual Horse of the Year Show, for which Warkworth A&P is a qualifying event, the equestrian section could not move its 300-plus classes to the new slot, according to show committee chairman Allan Barber.

Instead, the horse and pony classes are sticking to the traditional Auckland Anniversary weekend, with the Northern District of the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) stepping in to organise the section, since chief steward Gennette Churches is retiring after 25 years in the role, with no replacement lined up to take over.

Northern RAS chairman Kevin Cholmondeley-Smith says he has never had to deal with a situation like this before, but he thinks they can make it work.

“We’ve got enough people and all the equipment, and we will run the show on the original date. We’re trying to do our best to do it well and get it so the horse people feel they have still got a show that’s worth coming to, and that they enjoy,” he says.

The decision to change the main show date was not an easy one, but was made to prevent dwindling attendances and to avoid heavy holiday traffic, Mr Barber says.

“There are lots of competing events – the regatta and fishing competition here, let alone those in other areas of Auckland – and traffic was a compounding issue,” he says. “It’s not a decision we made lightly, there were a lot of discussions with a lot of people and we had several meetings to discuss it. We tried desperately to find a date that didn’t clash with any other show, and had to decide what was better for the bulk of the show, and finally took the only choice we had.”

Mr Barber says it has become increasingly difficult to attract people to the show, so it is time to try something different in a bid to stay relevant.

“It’s getting harder and harder for shows in urban fringe areas. We’re trying to run a show that appeals to the punters that pay to come through the gates.”

He adds that with several committee members retiring after many years, there is an urgent need for younger people to come forward with new ideas and enthusiasm to help run the show.

“The people retiring are well over 70, so we need people to come forward, or we could lose the show,” he says. “We’re bringing it into the 21st century, looking at things and saying ‘how can we do it better, how can we do it more efficiently’. But we need people to put their hand up.

“We’re running a show – they don’t have to be farmers or have an agricultural background, they just need to be willing to help.”

The committee is hoping to get more schools and children involved, as well as revamping the A&P show website and making membership easier.

Anyone interested in volunteering their services to help the A&P show should email secretary@warkworthshow.co.nz. The society’s AGM will be held at the A&P show office at the showgrounds on Monday, July 2 at 7pm.

For queries about the equestrian show, contact Kevin Cholmondeley-Smith on 021 839010 or sthpacifichorses@xtra.co.nz.


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