2020 saw the year that we would have celebrated 150 years of agricultural show history.
On the 27th of October, 1855, 20 people attended the inaugural meeting of the Strathalbyn Agricultural Society. Chaired by Dr Rankine- the first show was held on the 5th of March 1856, adjacent to the Robin Hood Hotel.
– The Observer- 25th August 1860
‘Strathalbyn Agricultural and Horticultural Society’ was formed with Dr Walker SM elected as president. A committee of 30 gentleman was formed, with power to add to the committee. Subscriptions to the Society were 10/6 per month.
-The Observer- 22nd April 1865
‘The Strathalbyn Agricultural pastoral and Horticultural Society’ formed with a committee of 25 gentlemen. They were to hold one annual show each yet but not in 2020.
A continuation of show history
In 1883, the society succeeded in purchasing a whole 6 acre town block, bordered by Commercial Road, Wallbank Street, West Terrace and Mill Street (including Coleman’s store) for 600 pounds.
The first time a motor car was shown in Strathalbyn it was at the 1901 October Show. Mr Vivian Lewis of Adelaide drove the car up on Show morning, leaving Adelaide at 8:40am and arriving at the Showgrounds at 11:30am. This was hailed as a great achievement.
The Polo grounds had been given to the community by Richard Smith in 1904 and supplemented by a further gift from Sir Lancelot, anticipating future use of the Agricultural Society. However the community preferred the Ashbourne Road site with it being closer to town. Generous gift as this was, the site selection was controversial and resulted in Sir Lancelot Stirling, Society President for 28 years, retiring from that office. Sir Lancelot’s preference was the Polo grounds of 29.5 acres.
1908 Strathalbyn Show Special
Special trains from Adelaide, Port Victor, Milang and Murray Bridge brought people to the Show. There was 203 light horse entries and 52 draught horse entries that year. It was described as a ‘magnificent lot of animals’. Strathalbyn was famous for it’s horses.
-The Southern Argus 29th October, 1908
With increasing stock numbers, the Showgrounds were becoming too small and in the year 1909, Mr Richard Carruthers offered 12 acres of his land for show purposes- between Ashbourne Aoad and Coronation Road to the Society. His offer was accepted and the first show on the new grounds was held on 21st October 1910. Unfortunately Mr Carruthers died before this event
-The Southern Argus October 2010
And the years go on…
In 1952 Log Chopping and Sheaf Tossing was introduced, attracting more than 80 entries for the former and 50 for the latter. Eclipsing the Royal Adelaide Show in both cases. In 1953 there were 70 entries for Sheaf Tossing (an all Australian record). These events were still on the programme until 1973.
Although the Centenary of the Agricultural Society occurred in 1955, the Centenary Show, which was opened by Senator Malcom Fraser, the future Australian Prime Minister, did not occur until 1970.
See all of our amazing show history from news articles, to trophies and medals, to programs and newspaper clippings on display, every year at the Strathalbyn Agricultural Show…
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