The first signs of a scaled-down Hawke's Bay Show have appeared at the showgrounds in Hastings with Monday's arrival of amusement rides for a ground-breaking four-day Labour Weekend carnival starting on Friday.
There will be no gate and on-site sales, with admission and rides tickets being available online only for the first time as Waikato-based fairground giant Mahons Amusements strives to keep operating at level 2. They also want to maintain a Hawke's Bay A and P Show link going back to the 1940s.
On-site today at Hawke's Bay Showgrounds Tomoana in Hastings, fairground manager C.J.Mahon said tickets can be bought via the Hawke's Bay Mega Fun Carnival Facebook page. Numbers are limited for each of the 10 three-hour sessions and the rides and the circle sideshows of Taupō operator David Mooney will be operating.
Numbers will be limited, with daytime sessions from 10.30am-1.30pm and 2pm-5pm each day, with additional 6.30pm-9.30pm night shows on Friday and Saturday. The online booking covers rides ticket sales and a $5 admission fee, including parking.
The gaps will enable the fairground to be cleared of the public between sessions, and other standard Covid-19 conditions such as mask-wearing, QR code scanning, social distancing and hand-sanitising will be in place.
Some rides and crew are unable to get out of the Waikato area because of its level 3 restrictions. But there will be at least eight on the site at the Karamu and Kenilworth roads corner of the showgrounds, from the Turbo Booster to the ageless carousel (merry-go-round) and ferris wheel.
Mahon is the third generation of the family in the business, and said that as a full-time events operation ways had to be found to keep it operating. This is despite the devastation caused by the pandemic and the cancellation of all of the A and P shows Mahons Amusements would have been at "this side of Christmas".
Among those cancelled are the Poverty Bay, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Manawatū and Central Hawke's Bay A and P shows, which would have been held on consecutive weekends in October and November.
The company was able to operate a fairground in Rotorua for the two weeks of the school holidays, and Mahon said it was particularly grateful for the effort the Hawke's Bay A and P Society had put in to enable this weekend's festival, as it had when the show was scaled down last year from the Royal New Zealand Show standing it had had since 2015.
This year, the society had made a decision on September 21 to cancel the 2021 show, but general manager Sally Jackson said some events are taking place where they can within the level 2 alert and without risk to personal safety and financial survivability.
About 300 horses and riders are gathering for dressage events which will be held tomorrow
at the Elwood Park polo grounds. Pony and showjumping events are on Thursday and Friday, many with points accumulating in series and circuits.
A pigs section will also be held.
Mahon, with about 20 staff sharing the roles this week, was accepting the conditions are likely to be "the new normal" for shows.
"We've been in our own work bubble for about the last four weeks," he said, as he considered the possibilities for the next few weeks. "It's very fluid, so we'll adapt... We have to find ways to stay open."
"It's a beautiful day," he said. "We appreciate being here."