The Mackenzie Agricultural & Pastoral Show began in 1899 and is organised by the Mackenzie A&P Society.
The first Show was a great success with people arriving by trap, sulky, wagon, horseback and train. There were sheep, cattle, horse, dog, saddlery and boots, gardens, housekeepers, farm produce, field roots and poultry classes....with a total of 178 entries. A Timaru Herald reporter commented: “...the day’s manifold attractions passed off without a jar of any kind...it now rests entirely on the Society to so arrange the day’s entertainment as to give a maximum of enjoyment and a minimum of inconvenience.”
Moving ahead...56 years later, there were over 8000 attendees and over 220 entries. The Timaru Herald’s headline was “BEST EVER SHOW IN THE MACKENZIE- Record Attendance Sees Spectacular Horse Events and Fine Display of Stock.”
The Centennial Show was celebrated in 1998 and was also a huge success. Attendance was estimated at 16,000 with 5341 entries and 331 trade sites. John Button and Ray Leslie have written a wonderful book – “Easter Monday in the Highlands- A Century of Mackenzie Highland Shows 1899-1998”.
Interestingly, in the 115 years of Show History, it was only cancelled three times: 1925 (polio epidemic), 1943 (WWII) and 1948 (infantile paralysis epidemic). A standard was set at the very first Show and the Committees over the years have worked tirelessly to provide, what is now known as, the largest one day Show in Australasia.