A&P Society president Simon Collin says this year's revamped show is still about 'town meets country'.
He chats with Mark Story.

The show will boast a revamped format this year, what's in store?
Yes there is a revamp and although there's still five days of competition we've done our research, looked at the format of the show and come up with a night show. This will include an entertainment package on Thursday night and will appeal to lots of people. It's a good, positive step forward for us.

All talk of late is of the town-county divide - do you think the show goes some way to remedy this?
Traditionally the A & P Show has always provided a platform or facility where town meets country. We're finding now things like the animal zoo becoming more popular because urban people don't have that rural contact they might have had 20-30 years ago. The petting areas is about getting up and close to animals and that's becoming a huge part of the show now. Urban people coming to the show is an integral part of the event and we need their support to maintain the show and keep it going. There's a good relationship there.

Has restoring the Tomoana name to the profile of the showgrounds sparked a new era?
Yes I think so as obviously there's a lot of history with the show and showgrounds. The Tomoana family and their relationship with the Nelson family - in terms of them being custodians of the land - there's a huge history to it. That was always recognised but for no reason the Tomoana name seemed to get dropped off. I think in this day and age recognising the Maori heritage is an important facet and should be acknowledged. Having it official does start a new era. We're looking forward to working closely with the Tomoana family and Waipatu Marae, who are of course our neighbours. It's about getting more value added and getting further input from them for the show.

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As president, what's your primary role in the show?
Dare I say it, I suppose I'm the face of the show. As president you've got a responsibility to front and be responsible for a number of different things at the show. Hosting dignitaries is one, but also supporting the people, our volunteers and the people within the show and its different sections. Naturally the buildup is very busy too.

What's your earliest/best memory of the show?
It'd have to be the car boot picnic in the early 70s, as a young fella I thought they were great. It was a big family occasion, an obligatory three days and most of rural Hawke's Bay ended up at there. Then there was always the running round through the side shows and other sections of the show with all your mates. Looking back on it now it was quite special family time.

* The Royal A&P Show will run from Wednesday, October 18, to Friday, October 20