The transcript of an account of the first ever Bellingen Show in 1881. It was published in Sydney Mail & NSW Advertiser on May 14, 1818. Pretty interesting stuff, if you like your history, but either way just a lovely account of the show 136 years ago.
The first agricultural show ever held here took place at Fernmount on the 28th of April, in connection with the Bellinger River Agricultural Society. Everything transpired to make it a success. The weather, “which up to two days previous to the show was unsettled and rainy”, cleared up, and the 28th in that respect was all that could be desired.
A band, which fortunately happened to be obtainable, and which at intervals discoursed sweet music, contributed in no slight degree to the enjoyment of the day. The young folks, many of whom had probably never heard one before, were delighted, also some “children of larger growth”, who tripped the light fantastic toe on the green award to its sweet strains.
Through the kindness of the Minister of Education, the whole of the schools on the river were granted a holiday, the youngsters mustering in great force, and between racing and jumping for small prizes, and scrambling for lollies, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The number of people who visited the ground was close on 400, perhaps a small gathering to some of your readers, but a tremendous turnout for the Bellinger.
To take your readers through the list of prize winners would occupy too much space, and very likely prove uninteresting to most of them, but as the Bellinger does not often figure in your columns, and as the Mail has a large circulation in this and adjacent districts, we would ask your consideration while we name a few.
In the horse section the principal awards were: Best Blood Stallion, Mr G Scott’s King; Best Draft Stallion, Mr Mitchell’s Ploughboy; Best Draft Mare, Mr N. Cahil’s Darling; Best Draft Filly, Mr P. Moran’s Blossom; Best Generally Useful Farm Horse, Mr J.H. Noble’s Stonewall; Best Pony, Mr G. Scott’s Tom Thumb, a very handsome pony which carried off first prize in the Manning River Show last year.
A large number competed for Best Gentleman’s Hack, which was won by Mr G.R. Scott’s Cadmus. The prize for Best lady’s Hack excited great rivalry, no less than eight competing. The riders looked charming, and many an opinion was given that in this respect the Bellinger was not behind other places. After much judging the prize was awarded to Mr J. Maher’s Shamrock.
This decision gave the most dissatisfaction of any during the day, but on this as on any other similar occasion the utmost good humour prevailed. The prize for the Best Hunter was also well contested, and resulted in Mr Mansfield’s bay mare, Brunette, beating six others and winning.
Cattle were but poorly represented. Mr Green’s fine cow, Star won the prize for Best Dairy Cow, and Mr Boltwood took that for Best Fat Ox with a very prime beast.
In Implements, Mr Andrew Black, a pupil of Mr David Henderson, of metropolitan fame, exhibited two superior ploughs and a scarifier, but as there was no competition the judges expressed regret that they could not award him a prize, complimenting him on the shape and finish of the articles, saying they would do credit to the maker in any first-class show.
No doubt Mr Williams will be heard of in this respect further afield. Mr Williams, our other disciple of Vulcan, had a nice little exhibit, consisting of a polished saw tiller and some horseshoes, very tastefully executed. Both these exhibits were awarded Honourable Mention”.
There were large collections of fruit, vegetables, butter, flowers etc. Mr J. Walker secured the prize for Best Sample of Maize. Mr J. Marx exhibited a coffee plant with ripe beans, a’so chicory and tea plant. Sugar and sugarcane were conspicuous in their absence, which in a fine sugar-producing district was very noticeable; it is to be hoped that this will be remedied in the future.
A very nice collection of fancy work was shown. Miss R. Bennett secured first prize with a handsome woolwork cushion; a special prize was given to Miss Redstone for some lace-edged handkerchiefs, and honourable mention to Miss M’Ateer, for a handsome woolwork picture. The prize for Best Dressed Doll was awarded to Miss E. Bird, Fernmount Public School, and that for the Best Made Undergarment, to Misses Jane Kenny and Rosa Tyson.
We were glad to see a number of visitors from the Nambucca and Macleay. Some of the latter, “not having one of their own”, were much aggrieved at the show not being better advertised, but the truth is we were rather timid about our maiden effort in this direction, and consequently did not advertise it as we should have done.
The stewards, headed by our respected police magistrate, Mr W.C. Lawson, worked most indefatigably to make the thing go off well, and their efforts were crowned with great success.
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