History

THE HORSHAM AGRICULTURAL SHOW IN REFLECTION

The first show held by the Horsham and Wimmera District Agricultural and Pastoral Society was at Horsham on Wednesday 2 August 1876. It was held at yards lent for the occasion by Mr. R.W. Bennett, at Pynsent Street in Horsham.  From there is was held at the current Horsham City Oval til 1902 when the show moved to it’s current premises bordered by the Wimmera River, McPherson Street and McBryde Street. This area was formerly known as Queen Victoria Park.

Read more of The History of the Horsham Agricultural Show 1875 onwards 

From the very beginning, the aim of the Horsham and Wimmera District Agricultural and Pastoral Society was to ‘improve the quality of livestock and to promote agriculture’ in the district.

Today, the Horsham Agricultural Society seeks to carry on the traditions of the past whilst attempting to keep it alive by encouraging young men and women to join the committee and take an interest in our past.

(Excerpts have been taken from ‘The History of the Horsham Agricultural Society’ by the late Ian Maroske, written for the society’s centenary celebrations in 1978.)

THE HORSHAM AGRICULTURAL SHOW TODAY

Our aim today is to conduct a traditional Agricultural Show which provides competitions and entertainment for families and all members of the public.   In 2020, we were the first Show in Victoria to be virtual, due to COVID-19.  This was a hugely successful event and our social media stats indicate throughout Show month we reached 34,000 followers.  One post which was a video from 1978’s centenary Show was seen by more than 25,000 people and shared over 160 times!

Our goal is to continue to improve, provide and promote a range of free entertainment and give local business the opportunity to showcase new products.

We actively seek and encourage new members to the Horsham Agricultural Society Inc as we work together with the community to promote Horsham and all the benefits it provides our local people and tourists alike.

Our active projects include the 150km Feast, developing the Maydale Social Garden to support people of all abilities, the upgrade of power, lighting & regenerating of lawn on the ‘back paddock’, new toilet block at The Cattle Shed, a new shearing stage in Maydale Pavilion and the relocation of the administration office to the Maydale Pavilion.

THE HORSHAM SHOWGROUNDS

The Crown land portion, (McPherson Street boundary – Western Highway) is the side of the Showgrounds which houses buildings, built by the Horsham Agricultural Society but not owned by, due to the land being owned by the Crown.  Some of these buildings have over the past few years fallen into disrepair.  These buildings have been earmarked to be demolished in mid 2021.  The buildings listed to be demolished are the old toilets, McGennisken Hall and the Len Hobbs Committee Room in McBryde Street.  These buildings are not suitable for removal however the families who were councillors of the Horsham Agricultural Society, who were honoured with their namesake, will be remembered around the Maydale Reserve in other ways.

Camping – Residents of Horsham complained about campers on the river, back around 2016, making the city’s entrance look untidy. So council altered the permit which now only allows for camping during festivals and events at the Showgrounds.

MAYDALE RESERVE

The east side of the Showgrounds is owned by the Horsham Ag Society. The land was gifted by the May family in 1915.  As an organisation of volunteers, we do our best to retain our historical buildings (The Stable Blok, The Cattle Shed, the Stockmens Beer Garden) and maintaining them on what is a shoe string budget. It’s almost the last piece of living history in Horsham and it needs to be celebrated. Tours will commence soon!

A lovely memorial garden along the river was created in 2021 in memory of Daryl Overall, whose family donated the funds to make this happen.

The Wimmera CMA will be planting out natural grasses with the Lutheran School students to create a natural habitat for native frogs etc. also on the river front.

The Maydale Pavilion has the biggest flat floor space in Horsham and our plans to upgrade the interior are always on the table.  It houses the Wimmera Merino Autumn Sheep Show, several ram sales, a state of the art shearing board for the Horsham Show’s shearing competition and also a variety of community events and expos.

A social garden was established in 2016 which now sees a part time gardener who is funded externally and who works with the disability sector, engaging people of varying needs to undertake projects in the garden.

Camping – The Ag Society was effected by the permit change by Horsham Rural City Council and while our income was impacted at the time, the organisation was broke and with little hope of making any improvements succumbed to the change.
Camping is permissible for events such as the Horsham Show, Horsham Country Music Festival, the Horsham Fishing Competition, Swap Meet and other events run by the society.  Overnight camping for travellers with horses is also permissible.
Fast forward 5 years or so and we are back, knocking on council’s door  seeking to reinstate camping as the tourism environment has suddenly changed with the increase in people holidaying within Australia post COVID.
If the Ag Society is to bring back camping, this is what is required.
1. Change to zoning – could take about 6 months. Take into account local objectors etc.
2. Build a caretakers residence, new ablution block to include a laundry, water tank, clothesline, CFA overlay, marked sites and 24/7 caretaker.
Without financial support, this option is not about to happen anytime soon.  However, we would welcome RV FSC camping tomorrow but would face prosecution and and the fine is quite stiff.

RECENT FUNDING

The Horsham Ag Society applied for federal funding when the government identified the need to improve Showgrounds across Australia in 2019.  We put 2 submissions on the table:
No. 1 was to build a function centre/pavilion to overlook the river. Cost $1.6mil. We did not have the matching funding required. We asked council to help by chipping in $1.1mil as the grant would only provide $500k. As expected, this didn’t go through.
No. 2  was to make some improvements which would give us some hope.  We successfully acquired $125k, with council loaning us $30k to match it. This money is earmarked to build an all abilities toilet + 2 unisex cubicles ($115k), leaving $35k to upgrade lighting, power and relocate the administration office into Maydale Pavilion. We have 10 years to pay off the loan to council.

STAFF, VOLUNTEERS AND COMMUNITY

We have 4 part time staff – 3 partially funded and managed by an executive officer who is also the venue manager and events coordinator.  We have 8 positions for the current Work for the Dole program, with thanks to a great partnership with WDEA Works.  The society has a long and rewarding partnership with Axis Employment who fund one of the part time positions for outdoor staff.  We also provide a space for St Brigid College students to undertake Community projects.

The Maydale Reserve is an authorised volunteer provided for people who need to meet their volunteering obligations for Centrelink benefits.

FOLLOW US

Facebook, Instagram & Twitter – Horsham Ag Society, Horsham Show, The Cattle Shed and 150km Feast

Facebook only – Maydale Social Garden