A presidential family tradition

Malvern A&P Show president Paul Wright and his wife Nancy, with their horse Maggie May, say they have  a good lifestyle on their 700ha at Annat, near Sheffield.
Malvern A&P Show president Paul Wright and his wife Nancy, with their horse Maggie May, say they have a good lifestyle on their 700ha at Annat, near Sheffield.

Malvern A&P Show president Paul Wright is continuing a family tradition which dates back 101 years.

Mr Wright is the fifth generation Wright to serve as show president in the Malvern A&P Association's 115-year history.

His great-great-grandfather G.F. Wright served as president in 1913, followed by his great-grandfather L.T. Wright, who served 1931-34, his grandfather George Wright in 1959 and his father Donald Wright in 1992.

''We are very lucky. A lot of shows in Canterbury are struggling for membership, but we've always had a strong family involvement and Dad's still keen to go and work on the grounds.

''A lot of our past presidents still come along and help on the show set-up.''

This year's show theme was ''let us entertain you'', with lawn mower racing expected to be a major drawcard.

''The show is one of those events which brings the urban and country folk together and there's not many events like that. So it's about what can we do to bring people to our show,'' Mr Wright said.

''Lawn mower racing was introduced two years ago and it seems to be working. Last year, it was announced over the loud speaker that a lawn mower with a V8 motor was on display and people swarmed to the ring. It was suddenly like a ghost town on the other side of the showgrounds.''

Changes to the show this year included moving the public bar into a marquee and extending the opening hours, and condensing the entertainment and stalls area so the stock and station horse competition could be held on the main showgrounds, rather than the back paddock.

Mr Wright farms a 700ha cropping farm between Annat, near Sheffield, and Springston in partnership with his father, Donald, and brother Stephen. The original home farm, Mountainview, was purchased by G.F. Wright in 1895.

Today, the farm was mostly mixed cropping, with dairy grazing having replaced sheep in recent years.

In the past four to five years, the Wrights have introduced irrigation to 70%-80% of the farm and now have their own 7ha storage lake.

''That's the biggest change since the change from the horse to the tractor,'' Mr Wright said.

He said the lake not only ensured the farm had a more reliable water source, but it was good for recreation.

''It's a huge asset. We've done a bit of water skiing on it and we can have mates around for a barbecue.

''During the harvest, everyone else is away on their summer holidays, so it's great to be able to come here and have some fun,'' he said by the lakeside.

Mr Wright is married to Nancy and the couple have two children James (10) and Alex (7).

• The 115th annual Malvern A&P Show will be held on Saturday, March 22, at the Sheffield Domain. Gates open at 8am.

- by David Hill