The first Show meeting was held in the Kempsey School of Arts (later Municipal Chambers and now where the Skate Park is); on 7th June 1881. There were 47 Subscribers and the meeting presided over by Mr F G Panton JP. With donations totalling £189/16/6 [$379.65] promised the Macleay A H & I Association was formed. Mr F G Panton was also elected as President
The first committee members were:- P S Selfe, R Campbell, W D Scott JP, J McMaugh, C Sutherland, J Marshall, R Hayes, L B Rudder, A Cochrane, Wm T Dangar, Wm Johnstone, Jnr, H W T Lee, J Johnstone Snr, Wm Nance, J Ducat, J Clarke, Dr R H Simes, C Basche and E A Coleman.
The first Show was held on September 7th & 8th,1881 near the Good Templars’ Hall, near Belgrave and Holman Streets, Kempsey. Horse and cattle winners received gold, silver and bronze medals. An auction was held on the 2nd afternoon. In addition, there was a “ploughing match” in what was known as “Ramsay’s paddock” and at one time the site of the Salvation Army Citadel. There was £22/-/- prizemoney and a 10-guinea cup which was provided for 3 years.Blood and Draught horses (bred locally), Beef and fat cattle (also bred locally and reared chiefly on the Upper Macleay were well represented. Also Dairy produce, Pigs, Poultry,Fruit & Vegetables, Farm implements, including locally grown Maize were well represented. The Butter exhibited, was made in Wooden Churns. Cheese-making was also home industry at the time.
In 1882, the Trots were organised on Glenrock Plains, had 832 entries and the Macleay A H & I Association’s credit balance was £87/16/5 [approx $175]!! A grant of 18 acres of Land (out of flood reach), was also acquired from the Government for Show Purposes in Sea Street - Wm Neal gave the Association assistance with plans, a bank loaned £500 [$1000] and the necessary buildings, ie Agricultural Hall, Cattle Sheds and Horse Stalls were erected at a cost of £1800 [$3600].
The 1886 Show was the last held in the Good Templars Hall. - besides Draught horses and 2 trots (the first trot recorded being Barbsby Trot), there were winners in the Pony, Hack and Stock Horse Classes. Side-shows and shooting galleries were present and Milk testing was a feature.
Distinguished guests from different parts of the State attended the first Show in Sea Street on 9th, 10th & 11th March, 1887. Mr O Dangar, President opened the Show and named the main hall the “Jubilee Hall”, the year being the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria.
In 1890, Cream separators were exhibited and provided much interest because of the increasing development of the Dairy Industry on the Macleay. In 1892, further exhibits of dairying methods were shown and by 1895 the Ayrshire dairy breed of cattle was shown to be the dominant local breed. Evidence of growth in the local dairy industry became apparent when the 1896 Show had butter entries from Frederickton, Smithtown and Kinchela factories.
This Kempsey Show history story was created in 2001 BY FRAN WALE