Celia Lemhouse is a politics undergraduate from Oregon State University who also has a farming background. She’s interning with the communications and policy sections of Federated Farmers for 12 weeks, so we decided to send her along to a traditional Kiwi A& P show for her impressions…
The Canterbury A&P show definitely reminded me of an American State fair. Right up front was all the vintage machinery. I got to see steam engines, an old combine harvester that still ran, a very old bailer from the early 1900s, and several old tractors. The highlight was a John Deere tractor and International – that reminded me of the one my family has at our beef cattle ranch. Naturally, the International at the A&P show was pretty spiffy and cleaner than the one on my family’s ranch; ours is dirty with a hint of rust and duct tape.
Just like American State fairs, there was a section for sheep, equestrian, cows, pigs and chickens. In US fairs, most of the livestock are showed and auctioned off. Unlike the US, however, there was a section dedicated to rare animals in New Zealand. There was everything from miniature cows to rare horse breeds including a Clydesdale to sheep with interesting horns. There was also a sheep maternity section which I’d never seen at an American state fair.
The lumber show was a lot of fun. Several county and state fairs have these events too, but it’s always a fun to see one. I watched a few events where people raced against each other to slice 3 wood circles and race up a large pole to the top and hack off a piece. It’s always entertaining to watch people race up those standing logs, creating their own steps, and make it look easy.
The main difference was the entertainment. At the A&P show, there were different groups performing throughout the day while at American State fairs, there tends to be a main show at night that draws in a separate crowd from day time visitors. The biggest surprise was the New Zealand Army bands’ performance. I was expecting military music and a more sombre atmosphere and instead I was delighted to listen to different modern music medleys and several jazz and blues covers.
And naturally, there were a lot of vendors selling their goods, wares, experiences and food. The diversity was the same as in the US. The funny thing for me were all the food vendors advertising “American style” food that I wasn’t so sure was American. But there sure were a lot of deep-fried donut booths and a surprising number of coffee booths. Either way, the A&P Show was a lot of fun!