New Zealand's oldest country show celebrated its 170th anniversary with blazing sunshine and another record crowd.<inline type="photogallery" id="16086" align="outside" embed="no" />
Gate numbers at the Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show in Waimate North were estimated at 11,500, surpassing last year's record 10,000-plus.
Saturday's show combined traditional livestock competitions, equestrian events and trade stalls with newer attractions such as a talent quest and Savouring the Source, a marquee showcasing top Northland food and wine.
P&I; Association senior vice-president Graham Moor said great weather had helped to boost this year's turnout.
"The older heads are saying it's the biggest number we've ever had," he said.
He believed the show's enduring popularity had a lot to do with its strong family ties. His own children, for example, were the fifth generation in their family to compete in the show.
The 120-plus trade sites, offering everything from pickles to upmarket cars, were booked out weeks before the gates opened. The equestrian ring's 237 events saw a record number of entries, while the small animals tent was as crowded as ever.
Mr Moor said the show had been held in Waimate North every spring since 1842, when it started as a way for people to show their animals and produce. It has been on the current site since 1888; the show hall has changed little since it was built in 1891 by volunteer labour at a cost of just over £8.
This year's Kids Can Cook competition was a clean sweep for Opua School, which nailed all four places in the final. Eleven-year-old Holly Mather won the title for the second year running with a special fried rice, while Jamie Struthers, 13, was runner-up for his crepes with blueberry sauce, bananas and mint.
This year's talent quest saw young performers competing in dance and music, doubling as the semi-final for the Be Free concert in Kerikeri in February. The music section was won by duo Lydia and Tabitha, with second place going to 13-year-old Guy Yarrall of Paihia and third to Copper Seven, a hard-rocking trio made up of Kerikeri teens Nathan George, George Anson and Ewan Gordon.