WITH a combined Horsham Agricultural Society membership totalling 120 years, Barry Gross, Bob Jackman and Tom Blair have seen many changes to the iconic Horsham Show.
However, they all agree that one thing has remained a constant – the show’s dedication to promoting the Wimmera’s thriving agriculture industry.
Barry Gross leads the pack in celebrating 50 years with the society this year.
“The working bees are getting a bit harder on the knees, but we sneak along and do a little bit whenever we can,” he said.
“We’ve got to keep the showgrounds looking great all year round, but it really all comes together at showtime. Ron Bennett spends an enormous amount of time here and does a great job – he almost lives down here.”
Mr Gross said he joined the show society in 1968 to keep up with a family tradition.
“My father and grandfather were both committee members of the society for many years,” he said.
“Even though I have been on the committee for 50 years, I was involved six or seven years prior to joining. I would work with my father on the prime lamb section.
“We raised prime lambs out on our property at Jung and I continued on all those years until it concluded. One of the reasons it did conclude was because the abattoirs shut down around Horsham.”
Mr Gross said there had been many changes to the show during his time on the society.
“It’s really been 50 years of change. We’re seeing a big change this year with the whole show moving to the river side of the showgrounds,” he said.
“All the machinery dealerships that used to be here disappeared because of the introduction of the field days.
“That all changed, but the number of events has grown substantially over the years.
“There have been lots of different highlights over the years and it’s hard to remember them all.”
Mr Gross said the society itself had also changed over time.
“The first meeting I went to, everyone had a suit and tie on. Whenever they had something to say, they would stand up and talk – it was very formal,” he said.
“The society has changed a lot because we are a lot more casual.”
Mr Gross said country shows would always be a vital part of regional communities.
“It’s a showcase for the farmers. They are able to show of their stock and produce, which is very important. People like to compare with others who are doing the same thing,” he said.
Tom Blair said his 40 years with the society had flown by.
“Bob Devlin approached me when I was about 40 and said the show society needed help,” he said.
“I was on the committee for a few years and then got put onto the animal nursery with Allan Baudinette. We had some really fun days there. We would have some wild cows and calves come in.
“One time we couldn't even let one of them out of the trailer because it wouldn’t have behaved being in a pen in the nursery. They were really good days and the years have gone so quick.”
Mr Blair said there had been many highlights during his 40 years with the society.
“Being on the animal nursery were great days. We used to always rely on others to bring their animals and fowls in,” he said.
Mr Blair said the show had evolved substantially.
“Being straight after the Melbourne Show has been a big change, especially with the horse events,” he said.
“The horse events have been very strong in Horsham. They’ve put extra days into it and are doing the horse show after the Horsham Show this year. They were always able to fill up two-and-a-half days.”
This year Mr Blair will contribute a special personal piece of memorabilia to the show.
“I have an old Kenworth S-Model semi-trailer that’s going to be on display. There were only 40 of this model that came to Australia and we got the number 41 in 1966,” he said.
“We’ll give it a wash up and bring it in. Hopefully people will have a good look over it. There will be a couple of other old trucks on display too.”
Related: History | Roll up … it’s show time
Mr Blair said he planned on being a part of the show for many years to come.
Bob Jackman is celebrating 30 years with the society in 2018. He said he decided to join a bit later in life compared with his counterparts.
“I was over 60 when I first joined,” he said.
“I was talked into it and thought it would be a good thing to be a part of.”
Mr Jackman said he had many fond memories of the show over the years.
“We had the governor here a few years ago and that was one of the highlights. It was good to have him come and look at the fleeces in the show,” he said.
“I used to show fleeces too, but not anymore.”
Now in his 90s, Mr Jackman said he was not sure how many more years he would be involved.
“I don’t know how much longer I will be a part of the society – I’m getting past it I think,” he said.
While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you’re up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.