A&P Show: Quest for missing trophy

By Michele McPherson

The mysterious case of the missing trophy is fresh on the minds of the eight women behind the home industries section of the Tauranga A&P Show this weekend.

The solid silver Russian samovar (tea urn) vanished in the 1980s and hasn't been seen for nearly 30 years but the women believe someone in Tauranga must know where it is and are hoping it will re-surface come show day on Saturday.

The astute and dedicated group of women have spent all year preparing to receive entries of fruit and vegetables, dahlias, jam and bottled fruit, baking chocolate, knitting and crochet, needlework, crafts and hobbies, and photography, which make up the home industries section of the Tauranga show.

They dream of seeing the ornate Macmillan Trophy, once a prize for the women's organisation providing the most show entries, to the winner of the Best Trade Exhibit at the prizegiving on Saturday afternoon.

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"It was quite a spectacular trophy. For years and years it was given out and then disappeared," said show site manager Phil Becker.

The quest for the missing trophy, donated to the A&P Society by the Macmillan family in 1936, was sparked again after members of the Tauranga branches of the Women's Institute and Rural Women New Zealand were approached to band together to revive the home industries section of the show three years ago.

Prior to that the section had been missing from the city's annual snapshot of rural life for about 10 years.

After successfully welcoming home industries back to the show, the women have a strong focus on encouraging young people to improve their arts and craft skills.

"If we don't encourage people to keep using these crafts, they will be lost," said show treasurer Mary McTavish.

Part of this involves offering pre-school, primary school and intermediate school sections, which cost just 20c to enter.

"We're doing as much as we can to encourage children to enter. When all is said and done we just want people to come and enjoy themselves. There's lots to look at and hopefully inspire them to have a go," Mrs McTavish said.

Entries across all the home industries sections must be delivered to the racecourse between 10am and 2pm tomorrow for invited judges to sample eats and admire the handiwork from 3pm.

Not prepared to risk losing another precious souvenir of the the century-old show, all winners are now photographed with their trophy, which is engraved with their name, but are not permitted to take it home.

"These amazing old cups that are now getting very fragile and valuable," Mrs McTavish said.

One thing's for sure though, the Tauranga A&P Show which is celebrating its 116th year of bringing country life to the city, offers more than you might expect could be packed into Tauranga Racecourse.

Home industries is just one of five sections, including sheep shearing, western riding and barrel racing, cattle shows and English equestrian which will continue throughout Sunday due to the large number of events.

Mr Becker said there were certain attractions which drew the crowds each year.

"The sheep shearing has always been a pull for people," he said.

One of the highlights this year is Rotorua woman Chelsea Mariner and her performing trick dogs the Dog Stars. Miss Mariner has a variety of working border collies which she has trained to perform unusual tricks.

"It's very entertaining," Mr Becker said.

The show also includes the traditional A&P; show amusement rides, artisan shops, horse and cart and pony rides, wood chopping, milking demonstrations and industrial displays.

"Basically it's a family day out," Mr Becker said.

Among the less traditional attractions are pig racing, a laser skirmish course, a rock climbing wall and air boards.

Hoping for a sunny day on Saturday, Mr Becker said the water attractions - including water ball walking and water slides - were a hit with children and recommended parents bring along a change of clothes for them.

"They just have an absolute whale of a time going down these water slides," he said.

The first 2000 people through the gates will get their entry card stamped and go into the draw to win prizes including $1000 cash.

The only catch is the winner must be at the 2pm draw to win.

Among the other prizes are seven nights luxury accommodation on the Gold Coast (not including flights) and a $200 petrol voucher.

If you have any information regarding the missing Macmillan Trophy, visit the home industries inside the green shed at the Tauranga A&P Show.

The fine print

What: Tauranga A&P Show

When: Saturday, 10am-3.30pm.

Where: Tauranga Racecourse

Entry: Tickets $10, children 12 and under free

- Bay of Plenty Times

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