Thursday, June 13, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Our Annual Show

As the 2024 Whitsunday Show approaches, it is interesting to consider what the annual show was like a century ago in the 1920s.
It is fascinating to read the publication, “Show Whitsunday Celebrating 100 Years” published on the occasion of the show’s centenary. Covering ten decades of annual shows in our district, it provides an absorbing insight into what has changed and what remains the same.  
In the 1920 -1929 segment, the writer noted that the Proserpine A P & I Association Show was “moving into its second successful decade of community support”. This is one factor that has certainly stayed the same. Such support remains integral in contributing to the success of shows and we are indebted to community of volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the venue that is the Show.
So, let’s turn back the clock to the 1920s to see what else has remained the same and what has changed …  
An excerpt from the “Proserpine Guardian” (August 27 1921) tells the story …
“Show dances were becoming increasingly popular, many held at the Tivoli Hall during Carnival Week.
There was a large number of visitors for the carnival during the weekend and the excursion train from Bowen on the last day of the show carried a very large number of passengers and there must have been a record number of visitors in attendance which no doubt was due to the local association having their annual event include the northern circuit and thus everyone was afforded the opportunity of witnessing the local fixtures without any fear of counter attractions elsewhere.
The side shows too were numerous and with a few exceptions they were the “cheap jack” class. On the ground Mr R C Traill who is R.V. Mackay’s local agent had a number of farm implements and keen interest was displayed by the farmers in the various implements exhibited.
The sugar cane display showed some nice cane and the exhibits from Banana Pocket were of a very high class. The quality of the cane displayed was a splendid advertisement for Banana Pocket and goes to prove that the land at that place is most suitable for the cultivation of sugar cane.  
There were also some splendid potatoes, maize and cigar leaf that came from the pocket which is further proof that the land is one of the very best. …
The Grand Parade on the last day of the show was well worth witnessing. Some fine exhibits were to be seen, some of which carried prize ribbons from other shows. A notable feature was the large number of cattle that took part in the parade and this was the first occasion that such a large number of animals were led round the ring which made the parade all the more attractive.
The competition in the ring events was keen and, in the majority of classes, there were a good number of exhibitors. The younger generation who took part in the riding events caught Mr P Salmon’s eye (a champion rider from Natal Downs) and he remarked that the riding of the youths from Proserpine was equal to if not better than he had seen anywhere in the north. These remarks are very complimentary more especially when they come from a gentleman who attends practically the whole of the shows in North Queensland.”
In 2024, the 111th Show is certain to deliver something for everyone just as it did a century ago. So, mark the dates in your calendar. Your support is important if the show is to go on …

Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum

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