Show hits ‘jackpot’ with fine weather, crowd

The effort goes in during the children's tug-of-war at the Lake Hayes A&P Show near Queenstown on...
The effort goes in during the children's tug-of-war at the Lake Hayes A&P Show near Queenstown on Saturday. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
Golden weather and free entry were the magic ingredients for a huge turnout at the 106th Lake Hayes A&P Show near Queenstown on Saturday.

Although the lack of ticket sales meant it was hard to get a handle on how many turned up, Lake County A&P Society president Phillip Bunn said it looked like the biggest crowd for some years.

He put that down to free entry and "hitting the jackpot" with the weather.

Mr Bunn said it was a big relief because for a long period it was unclear whether the show would go ahead this year.

"When we started planning four or five months ago, we were just coming out of the Covid lockdowns, and we were pretty worried because with a move to Level 2, we’d simply have to cancel it because you can’t have more than a hundred people."

The crunch came in November, when the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Central Lakes Trust and show sponsors came to the rescue, provided funding to cover the show’s preliminary costs.

Although significantly less than gate takings, the money allowed the society to continue planning with confidence, he said.

"If we did go up a level and the show had to be cancelled, we weren’t going to be financially too much out of pocket."

An entry fee would be necessary for next year’s show.

Mr Bunn said the show’s theme of "Celebrating Local Heroes" was a way of acknowledging all the people who had contributed their time and money to support the community during and since the Covid-19 lockdown.

The show featured its usual ingredients of horses, showjumping, dog trials, sheep shearing, trade sites, a petting zoo, home industries and live entertainment.

It has run 106 times since the first at Ayrburn Farm, at the other end of the lake from the current showgrounds, in 1904.

The missing years were during the two world wars.

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