Fresh ideas for A&P show

Marlborough A&P Association administrator-secretary Heather Clelland.
Marlborough A&P Association administrator-secretary Heather Clelland.

Marlborough A&P administrator Heather Clelland says what she likes best about agricultural and pastoral shows is the way they bring the country to town.

For many young visitors, the show is about the sideshows, she admits.

But what makes the day special is farmers displaying the best of their livestock and produce.

The Marlborough A&P show is being held on Saturday.

Ms Clelland started as secretary-treasurer in June after spending most of her working life in Australia, including seven years as executive officer for the Australian National Beef Expo. Held in central Queensland every three years, the expo showcased the industry from paddock to plate.

One of her first changes at the A&P Association was bringing all show entries and records online.

"I've really pushed a program called Showday, which does away with scrappy bits of paper you can hardly read."

With a few exceptions, entrants had adapted to emailing entries.

From her office above the show pavilion, Ms Clelland enjoys the view over the well-tended grounds and heritage buildings, including the sheep-pens and horse-stalls.

The grandstand would be off-bounds this year, its future uncertain because of the earthquake risk. Cooking, photography, weaving, needlecraft and other homecrafts usually displayed under the stand would be housed in a marquee.

Shows throughout the country were finding it increasingly difficult to attract people through the gate because of competing events, Ms Clelland said. This year she hoped to survey trade exhibitors, entrants and visitors to get more detail on what they would like to see at the Marlborough show.

"I believe there is always room for improvement," she said.

"Maybe we have to bring in more events for young people, looking to sister organisations like Young Farmers."

The A&P role is part-time for Ms Clelland, who lives in the Clarence Valley south of Kekerengu where her partner Keith Taylor works on the Matariki stud for James and Becky Murray. When not working, she enjoys riding her horse and gardening.

Former show secretary, Pauline Childs, held the position for 12 years.

The Marlborough Express