A&P Society general manager Sally Jackson says things are shaping up nicely ahead of this month's Royal Show. She chats to Mark Story.
How are the nerves ahead of your first show as general manager?
The Hawke's Bay A & P Society is incredibly fortunate to have many volunteers who contribute significantly to the organisation and to the community overall. Almost every part of The Royal A & P Show has a group of volunteers looking after it and they have a huge amount of information and energy to roll out what is needed for the event. The Society has around 100 volunteers, all dedicated to making sure the Show happens without a hitch. So, am I nervous? Not really! As long as the sun shines and even if it doesn't, I am totally confident we have everything covered!
If you had to pitch to show to townies, how would you sell it?
Well – I am a townie, and within a few short months of working at the A & P Society I have fallen in love with the rural world I have found myself in. And the A & P Show, well what can you say? What is not to love! It is a massive event that truly brings rural life to the city like no other event can.
The biggest pitch for me, and what would win me over if I wasn't a closely linked to the society, is the totally unique opportunity that the Show provides the community. For three days the showgrounds turns into a massive farm. This year we have refocused the event and placed a huge amount of energy into the animals and the agricultural and pastoral elements of the Show, and we know that visitors are going to get a completely different experience from any other event offering in Hawke's Bay.
Some were hoping the Royal Show would mean we'd get a visit from the touring Royal Highnesses, Harry and Meghan. Did the society attempt to woo them at all?
We tried all sorts of wooing tactics! In fact, many people tried on our behalf as well. But no luck unfortunately. Another time perhaps.
In your native Wales, is there an equivalent of a show?
A & P Shows are international and found all over the world. Even in Wales! The Royal Welsh was held in July and the President of our Society attended and has brought back lots of amazing ideas that we can incorporate into our event. Watch this space on this one.
What would you say are the overall points of difference poised for this year's event?
Along with some of the country's best and most prestigious animal competitions going on, there will be some absolutely amazing things for people to see and do! There will be hundreds of horses all competing for top prizes, we are hosting a World Cup event for Showjumping and the largest display of Clydesdales in New Zealand will competing in a massive log pull event. There will be donkeys, sheep, cattle, alpacas, pigs, piglets, dogs, poultry, handmades and so much more.
If you dare come and ride the carnival rides, then you will have a blast! They are fantastic! And we will have brilliant displays from the New Zealand Axe men, people will be able to see the shearing, the fencing, view the dressage and even go shopping! We have Ray McVinnie coming in for a masterclass in cooking, Henry and Monique Heke will be running a My School Kitchen Rulz competition, Ruud Kleinpaste will presenting at the Nature Shed and we have a massive New Zealand Edible Garden Show marquee.