Team forced to cancel show

    Michaela Argyle (4) with pony Super Syd, of Winton, at last year's Southland A&P Show.
    Southland A&P Show president Paula Bell said organisers were remaining positive despite having to cancel the show due to Covid-19 restrictions.

    FOR the first time since World War 2, the Southland A&P Show has been forced to cancel a show – its 153rd annual event.

    From showjumping to cattle competitions, classic car displays and spud-in-the-bucket challenges, the region’s showcase has been a spectacle for punters since the first official show in 1867.

    However, organisers had no choice but to cancel this Saturday’s event after the Government’s announcement of the move to Alert Level 2 until March 7, excluding Auckland, which was under Alert Level 3 restrictions.

    Almost 10,000 people made it to last year’s show at Donovan Park in Invercargill- this year, it will be empty.

    The Friday Night Market, which was to be run as a fundraiser for the Southland Charity Hospital, was also called off.

    Show president Paula Bell said while the decision was “gut-wrenching” for the team members who put hundreds of hours into making the event possible, it had to be done for the good of community health.

    “The past couple of days have been incredibly stressful for the Southland A&P Association executive and show planning committee.

    “But everyone has been so positive and willing to move forward.

    “It’s an extraordinary privilege to work with such a hard-working team, I really feel for my committee.”

    Organisers would be contacting all of those involved in the show, including sub-contractors, sponsors, entrants and stallholders, during the next few days.

    Depending on how lockdown restrictions panned out, the home industries section, beef herdsperson and dairy showmanship would likely be held on an alternative day and at a different location, once Alert Level 2 restrictions were lifted, she said.

    There was also a chance showjumping would be rescheduled.

    Mrs Bell said the raffle for the Southland Charity Hospital would still go ahead and there were some “incredible prizes up for grabs, all of which had been donated by Southland businesses”.

    Since the show was established, it had grown significantly to include something for everyone, not just rural residents.

    “It really is quite spectacular and it’s all about bringing the country to town.”