The Land Rover Horse of the Year Show in Hastings is set to crack a few records in 2020.
To be held on March 10-15, it will be the 22nd since it returned to Showgrounds Hawke's Bay Tomoana, becoming the home of an extravaganza which with more than 1800 horses is now the biggest equestrian event in Australasia.
But it's also blossomed into one of the most successful of retail and trade shows, and at a time of some struggle for A and P and other shows in similar commercial space is expected to hit record interest.
HOY trade manager Sophie Blake said the 260 marquees now booked are a 16 per cent increase on the show nine months ago, and 25 per cent up on the size of the retail village in 2011.
Horse numbers are more than double those of when the show landed in Hastings
Exhibitors come from as far as South Africa to mix with others from across Australasia, and those based in Hawke's Bay.
Blake believes the growth is spurred by the success of the 2019 event, which had foot traffic of more than 53,000, with surveys revealing about 62 per cent citing shopping as the main reason for being there, almost half of those surveyed spending $500 to $3000.
"It's a retail ripple effect," Blake said. "With such an amazing show in 2019 most rebooked straight after the show."
"Perceptions are changing," she said. "When people think of the Horse of the Year, they don't only think horses and competition — they think shopping and entertainment."
Emphasis is, however, put on the "local" opportunity, highlighted by Hastings saddlery experts Forbes and Co, and Havelock North fashion brand Fortify Clothing.
Blair and Clare Forbes have supported the show since the 1990s and say: "The atmosphere is electric and the shopping is amazing. For local retailers Horse of the Year is a great opportunity to get in behind Hawke's Bay to help promote an exciting event that brings so many people to our region."
Fortify Clothing director William Atkin has been there just two years but says its the best week of trading for the business other than Christmas, and there are 29 retailers along for the first time. Newcomer Ben Wilson, of Spa Pool Specialists being attracted by a "captive audience with desirable demographics", and the six days into which the show had grown.