Parikino Sports Club, the Grand Ol' Dame of country fairs, marched on toward her centenary when she celebrated her 91st birthday on March 2.

The celebrations co-incided with the club's annual Parikino Horse Sports and, when it comes to picnic sports days, there are now few around the Whanganui district to beat Parikino.

Deliliah Macnab makes the long march home from battle. Photos / Tina Chambers
Deliliah Macnab makes the long march home from battle. Photos / Tina Chambers

The club has grown immensely over the years with the sports held annually, except for three years during World War II and several times more recently due to storms in the district.

The event started from the local school sports and grew to the extent of more than 1000 paying at the gates during the 1930s.

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Barney Tuka wins the horse division of recently-introduced high jump.
Barney Tuka wins the horse division of recently-introduced high jump.

Highland pipe bands attended with boats coming from Whanganui and Pipiriki for the sports. The Pipiriki boat used to stay the night for the major dance and social and would return the next day.

In 1930, the British Isles rugby side played its first game in the country on the sports ground, beating a Parikino XV in a practice match before going on to beat Whanganui 19-3.

Today there is no gate charge and the sports are open for all to enjoy a family day of entertainment in the country.

A full programme of horse events, including ponies as well as hacks and shepherds events entertained large numbers of visitors, many of whom camped overnight to enjoy the late night festivities.

Four generations of the Wickham family gather to celebrate the foresight of forebear Phil Wickham, who was instrumental in setting the Parikino Sports Club 91 years ago.
Four generations of the Wickham family gather to celebrate the foresight of forebear Phil Wickham, who was instrumental in setting the Parikino Sports Club 91 years ago.

A feature each year is the support from the thoroughbred horse racing fraternity. This year Turakina trainer Kevin Myers trucked in a large herd of gallopers as he prepares some for the upcoming Easter jumping carnival at Oakbank and the Warrnambool in Australia.

As well as the horse events, the sports also attract woodchoppers from around the region.
The sports could not continue for such a long period without the hard work and contribution of the sports club committee members and sponsors.

Talented amateur photographer and Parikino regular Tina Chambers captured some of the action at this year's event.

The spoils of war.
The spoils of war.