Preparations are well under way for this year's Royal A&P Show with more than 5000 entries already in for competitions ranging from baking and crafts to the FEI World Cup Showjumping event at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds.
In its 154th year, the show will run from Wednesday, October 18, to Friday, October 20, and has a new format this year, reflecting a desire to retain the event's nostalgia factor at the same time as increase its appeal to a wider audience.
Hawke's Bay A&P manager Brent Linn said a debrief was held after last year's show and identified that people were keen to bring back the social aspect that people had enjoyed over the years.
"We looked at participation, hospitality and entertainment and have created more opportunities for people to get together with family and friends and have a fantastic experience."
The main change from previous years had been to remove Wednesday as a public day, instead opening the public gates on Thursday and Friday and extending the closing hours on Thursday to 8.30pm to offer a night show with market stalls, food and entertainment.
As well as expanded food and entertainment offerings, the members lounge was being returned to the heart of the show, Mr Linn said.
"Bayleys came on board and, with their support, we can offer a place where members can come and socialise and enjoy cafe food from Orton Tailored Cuisine, as well as regional wines and beer.
"We've also increased the number of managed events such as two business breakfasts and Livamol equestrian lunch that can connect and inspire the rural sector," he said.
Show organisers were keen to find ways to attract the 18 to 35-year age group and have introduced a Brewery Lane and Vintners Alley entertainment zone.
There, over both days, visitors can enjoy some of the region's top wines and craft beers along with music and entertainment.
Other highlights besides the traditional livestock displays and equestrian and dog trial competitions included New Zealand's largest fruit bin maze, a kidszone for the under 7s, a Hastings Heart of Hawke's Bay community stage, a performance by the Beat Girls with the Flaming Maniacs fire dancers, and a Deco City grand parade on Friday.
A Taste Hawke's Bay demonstration kitchen would run both days and feature both a children's "My Kitchen Rulz" Masterchef-style cook-off and a "Hastings Mayoral Cook Off", Mr Linn said.
"This year we have blended a variety of experiences for different audiences, responding to the community's current needs as opposed to doing things the way we have always done them."
● The show will be open to the public on Thursday, October 19, from 8.30am to 8.30pm and Friday, October 20, from 8.30am to 5pm. Go to www.showgroundshb.co.nz for more details.