Not your average A&P show

Photo provided by Deborah Heron
Photo provided by Deborah Heron

In Central Otago the A&P show with its vibrancy, fun and community spirit is one of the highlights of the year where families enjoy themselves and the locals compete fiercely. 

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the equivalent of this is the annual camel festival with its highlight, The Camel Beauty Contest. 

At home a farmer may look for muscle, finish and balance in his sheep and the children dress their pet lambs to look as cute as possible. In Saudi these classes seem to be  combined as the camels are judged on their long legs, neck, a shapely hump, decorated camel toes, long lashes, expressive eyes and pouting lips.

There are also camel shearing titles. In NZ shearers are judged on speed, in Riyadh they are judged on the patterns of the artwork.

Unlike the A&P show the prizes add up to over 85 million NZ dollars and this leads some owners to push the rules. Last year 12 camels were disqualified for receiving botox injections to improve their pout.

The event itself, like an A&P show, is colourful with animal rides, local craftsmen and the chance to sample tasty snacks.

Some of the camels were overly friendly and would try to kiss you if you got too close. So next time you want to tell your partner that she is stunning, tell her that she is beautiful with thick lashes and full lips, just don’t say aloud that you are comparing her to  a camel!

Peter Heron
Peter Heron
- Peter Heron was principal of Maniototo Area School from 2007-2010 before moving to become Head teacher of an Auckland high school. After this post he left New Zealand in 2015 to become the high school principal of one of the most prestigious schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This school has 1600 students from 70 nationalities aged 4-18 and has over 20 New Zealanders in its staff including its principals and owners.

Peter and his wife Deborah have a home in Waipiata and in this blog he aims to contrast life in Saudi Arabia and Central Otago.

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