The History of District Shows Goes Back Many Years. CANDIDA BAKER Talks to a Few of the Women Behind the Scenes, and Makes a 'Show' Confession; Wash the Cows, Bake the Cakes, Plait the Horses {Ndash} It's Show Time Again Folks

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I HAVE a confession to make.

When we first moved to the Northern Rivers five years ago, my then four-year-old daughter wanted to put something into the Bangalow Show.

Short of time, and a bit stressed out from the move, I rashly agreed and then at the last minute had to resort (gasp) to making pikelets from a packet.

So now you know.

At least at the time, she was more than satisfied with seeing her little offerings on show in the glass cabinets, and from their rather uneven shape and colour I was pretty sure we wouldn't get embarrassed by actually winning anything.

The same year, however, she also won Under 6 Champion Rider on her Shetland pony at Bangalow and that was fair and square, so we got to take home a blue ribbon after all.

Karmic retribution took place a few years later, when we entered one of our puppies into the 'waggiest' tail section of the Pets Parade, and came second to a dog whose tail was as flat out as a lizard drinking.

Oh well, at least our dog wasn't trying to eat people like one of the entries in the Pet with the Friendliest Smile section.

Due to my daughter's horse-obssessed showjumping older brother, the last five years has gone by in a bit of a Leyland Brothers blur for this particular mother.

We haven't quite yet managed to go to every show in the district - after all there's still Queensland to take into account - but the list is still pretty extensive.

There's Bonalbo, Mullum and Grafton,

Casino, Mur'bah, Maclean,

Then there's Alstonville,

Nimbin and Woodenbong,

the newly -named North Coast National

and then it's Bangalow again.

We've been to shows in the heat, the mud, the cold, the wet and the wind, and what has made a deep impression on me is that these wonderful local community events are run completely by volunteers. I don't recall anything like them growing up in England - the closest thing one would come to an agricultural show (of which there are few in the UK but nothing like Australia's), would be the annual fair.

Ag Shows, as they are usually known, apart from the Royal Agricultural Shows - which are known as the Royals, naturally - have been around a long time. The Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia was established as far back as 1831.

Ag shows were created as a public events to showcase everything to do with agriculture and animal husbandry. In a changing world, they have remained remarkably unchanged, give or take a few additions of breeds in the various classes.

Sandwiches and cups of tea have watered and fed me, at Bonalbo someone found me painkillers for a headache, and I've sheltered from inclement weather on numerous occasions, taking in - with awe, I must say - the amazing array of things other than horses on display.

Take the Wyatt family for instance. Nola Wyatt and her husband Dwight are well-known locally for the AI service they run from Goolmangar. Nola came from a cattle property and when she was a teenager she used to show Guernseys, but the Wyatt family - boys Matthew, 17 and Kurtis, 15 included - have another claim to fame, being very competitive fancy pigeon breeders and exhibitors.

The family has been showing pigeons for almost 20 years, so the boys have both grown up with pigeon passion and the Wyatts now have more than 200.

"We've got so many we all have our own breeds," Nola says. …