HISTORY

Reference: Forbes (N.S.W. : Shire). Council. & Forbes History Book Committee. 1997, The history of Forbes, New South Wales, Australia Forbes Shire Council Forbes, N.S.W

 

In the decade after the goldrush, only those able to come to terms with the harsh conditions remained in the district. In 1872 the farmers' competitive spirit was reflected when Australia's first sheepdog trials were held at Forbes. A black and tan female pup owned by Mr Charles King won the twenty guineas prize for the event. The pup's name was young Kelpie (also known as Kelpie II or King's Kelpie). Her performance at Forbes was so outstanding that henceforth all dogs of a similar appearance became known as Kelpies. Following is an account of King's Kelpie's performance when she competed in sheepdog trials at Forbes Pastoral and Agricultural Show.

 

At the trial of sheepdogs today there were seven entries, including some of the best dogs in the colonies. After some severe tests the judges divided between Mr Charles King's Kelpie and Mr C E Gibson Tweed. The latter dog west sent for specially from Tasmania to compete. Both dogs worked magnificently, and it is likely that the amount of first prize (20 Guineas) will be doubled, so that both owners will get equal money. Flockmasters came from distances of 150 miles to see the trial, and avowed it war the grandest contest they ever saw. The dogs worked one and three sheep respectively and notwithstanding the continuous rain, some hundreds of people watched the trials for six hours, with unflagging interest. 

 

Phil Mylechrane was reputedly the judge at this competition. 

Another important event occurred in 1872: the Forbes Pastoral, Agricultural and Horticultural Association and Horticultural Association was founded. Leaders in that movement were William Brooke JP, the first show secretary, and Josiah Strickland, the foundation president. 

 

The first PA & H Show was staged in a shop in Rankin Street in 1873. The need for a larger exhibition was seen and the next was held on the Condobolin Road in saleyards owned by Charles St Baker. Shortly after, the association acquired land from the crown opposite the site of the cemetery on the Bogan Gate Road and for many years the pruentation was held on this site, then known as Carrington Gardens.

 

In 1888 William Brooke was still a show committee member and was presented with a gold watch in appreciation for service. By 1892 the show had outgrown its home and a new site was acquired consisting of approximately 30 acres. This was the site which we now know as the Showground. The first buildings on the site cast approximately £6,000 and consisted of a sheep shed, grandstand, cattle yards and stalls, industrial pavilion and poultry shed. In the early years at the new ground the £200 scouring prize was vied for by the large merino producers including Messrs N. Gatenby, Edols and Co, Martin Bras and Jones B. 

 

Very few records survive of the early show association committee activities. A number of articles relating to early shows are displayed at the Forbes Museum. These include prize cards, an early show poster, photos of Governor Rawson opening the 1902 show and another of Mrs Stace riding Emu Plains. (She was the winner of the ladies' High Jump of the World with a jump of 6' 6” in 1915). 

 

By the Jubilee Show, in 1923, the format was a three-day show. The Forbes Show Society had 700 financial members, a number equivalent to that of the Bathurst Show Society of that time. A train brought Parkes people to the Show. Features included exhibits by Gaggin, Rath, Penn and Dunn (coach builders), automobile sales from Buick. Studebaker, Overland, Essex, Hudson, Ford, Dodge, Williams Bros motorcycles and Indian motorcycles. The horse section included thoroughbreds, trotting, pacing and draught stock. Cattle classes included milking and beef and the sheep section merino and long wool. A display by the British Australian Cotton Association resulted in 22 district farmers planting trial plots. 

 

Entertainment at the 1923 show included Jimmy Sharman’s Boxing Troupe and a glass blower. Visiting the town during the show period were Sole Bros Circus, Stanley McKay’s Moving Theatre, which performed in Spring Street under canvas, Aladdin and Babes in the Wood, the Hospital Show Ball which attracted 240 patrons with decorations left standing from the previous night's Bachelors Ball, Jubilee Show Concert starring toe-dancer Clare Summergreen with Maggie Shanagan's Highland Fling proving popular. The Show Smoke Concert featured a song skit by Aubrey Robinson on local identities. 

 

Field crop competitions have been held over the years, with records back as far as 1927. One of the exhibits on display in the Forbes Museum is a prize card which was awarded to T. J. Kelly of Kelly's Plains for the best bag of wheat at Farmers Show, held at Osborne Hall in 1884. 

 

The 30 October 1912 crop competition attracted 14 entries. The prize of £10/10/00 was on by Edward Taylor Jnr, of Dog and Duck. The sample was four feet six inches high and was taken from a seventy-acre crop. 

 

On 17 July 1928 the first sheep show was held in Forbes. This was probably the first held in the west. The PA & H Society began the show with the sheep judging at 10.30 am. The show was held independently of the annual Forbes PA & H Show.

 

One hundred and sixty-seven sheep exhibits were held in pens. Exhibitors were from Forbes, Grenfell, Quandialla, Bathurst and Young. Some 600-700 sheep were yarded for the sheep sales, with buyers from all over the state. Mr E. A. Austen was the primary organiser of the Show. 

 

By the 1930s the show was nearly bankrupt because of the economic situation and the fire which destroyed show buildings. Jules Girot conducted dances to raise funds for the revival of the show movement. It was during the early 1930s that the first fat sheep pavilion was built.

 

In 1959 we see the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary. It was the first formed in the region and therefore an example for others to follow. Over the years the work of the auxiliary has assisted in providing glass display cases for the cookery exhibits as well as their other duties of compiling schedule sections, selecting judges, acting as stewards and preparation and clean-up of the pavilion.

 

The Showgirl Competition was first initiated in 1959 with Miss Sandra Low of Bandon Street, Forbes the inaugural Miss Forbes Showgirl. In 1966 a committee was formed to handle the Miss Showgirl Competition. 

 

1964 saw horse jumping introduced as an attraction with the NSW show jumping championships being hosted. 1965 saw the beginning of the Forbes jumping Derby. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

In 1966 a shearing contest was added with crowds watching shearers compete for the Central West Title. 1967 saw Forbes host the NSW Shearing Championships and the third National Jumping Derby. Dog shows were introduced as a further attraction. 

 

The Centenary Show was held on 4,5 and 6 September 1975. The program included a Centenary Ball, bread show, sheepdog trials, wood chopping, trotters, dressage, tug-of-war, show jumping Derby, Miss Showgirl competition. Displays included live-stock, poultry, cage birds, flowers, fine arts and Kennel Club dog show. 

The PA & H Association decided that as the 1975 Forbes Exhibition would be the Centenary of the Society, a big effort would be organised to make it a very special event.

 

It was decided to hold a Show Ball on the Tuesday evening before the three days of the Show. The venue for this event was the Forbes Golf Club Auditorium. The then secretary-manager, the late Jack Shine and his staff rendered wonderful cooperation and assistance in staging this event. To make a diversion from the usual, a Beard-Growing Competition was organised, with all entrants showing a clean shaven face on a date some two to three months before the event. Some 18 or 20 bearded gentlemen were paraded, to be judged by the votes of all the ladies attending the ball. The winner was presented with an electric razor. 

 

Another feature of the Ball was an exhibition of the old time square dance, the Lancers. The late Jim Collits tutored three sets of young and older in the steps and movements of this old favourite dance. 

The Centenary Show was a great success. The State Governor and wife, Sir Roden and Lady Cutler were Guests of Honour and Sir Roden declared the show open.

 

Prominent people in the show's history include founders William Brooke and Josiah Strickland. Since then other notables include Mr E. Dawes, Mr D. Douse, Mrs E. Weaver, Mr & Mrs A. Scrivener, Mr T Black, Mr & Mrs E. Woods and many others whose services have been rewarded with life membership of the Society.

 

Forbes Show Society Presidents include:

  • 1884 J. J. Strickland

  • 1895-1926, I.Q. Wood (Brurrdka Stn), E. A. Bowler (Boyd Stn), Ern Bowler (St Enochs), N. A. Galanby (Jemalong), I. B. Donkin (Lake Cowal), John Strickland (Bundaburrah), W. Laidlow (Wongajong), W. L. Wilcox (Wongajong), T. Leslie (Blink Bonnie), F. A. Edols (Burrawong), C.G. Lackey (Nelungaloo), N. Donald (Eulong), W.N. Coward (Carrawobitty), N. Broods (Oaklands), W. Bassett (Mickeys Plain), C. MacPhillamy (Warroo), J. Gordon (Weelong Station), H. Edols, G. Thorton, R.E. Rawlins, G. D. Bassett, W. Martin (Droubalgie), W. Hunter (Wandary), 

  • 1927 A. J. Meagre

  • 1929 R. H. Beddie 

  • 1933 J. J. Beddie

  • 1936 H. H. Griffith

  • 1939 A. P. Schwartz

  • 1941 W A. Meares

  • 1942 N. M. MacPhillamy

  • 1946 W. A Meares

  • 1949 J. Hammond

  • 1953 M. H. Broderick

  • 1956 W. L. Ridley

  • 1959 A. Scrivener

  • 1963 A. M. Clarke

  • 1966 D. Doust

  • 1969 E. J. Dawes

  • 1972 D. B. Stitt

  • 1975 W. G. Schrader

  • 1978 N. J. Davie

  • 1981 J. J. Herbert

  • 1984 C. G. Morrison

  • 1987 G. B. Uphill

  • 1990 N. E. Pellow

  • 1993 A. W. Stewart

  • 1996 A. Rees

 

A number of special guests have been invited officially open the show. These have included politicians, dignitaries and entertainment personalities including Bill Peach and Blue The Shearer. In 1954 Sir John Northcott, the Governor of NSW, attended the show. 

Many of the traditional displays still feature at the show. A number of trophies have been competed for over the years, some of these having been donated by or in memory of show stalwarts. Memorial Trophies include:

  • Jack Dawes Memorial Trophy for a pen of three merino ewes.

  • John Murray Memorial Trophy for most successful exhibitor in prime lambs.

  • Wilson Memorial Trophy for beef cow and calf.

  • W. R. Martin Memorial Trophy for Cattle Team events from one stud.

  • Michael Girot Memorial Shield for most successful exhibit of fruit and vegetables.

  • Joy Robinson Memorial Cup for most successful exhibit in flowers.

  • Marion Constable Memorial Trophy in best exhibit in cut flowers. 

 

Gayle Williams

© 2019 by PEARCE & ASSOCIATES.