Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Rai Valley A & P Show

Liz and I arrived at the A&P show in Rai Valley a little before 9am. We had left home quite early to give us plenty of time to get there, as we were unsure what we would find after the storm the night before. We had even packed up essentials just in case we got stuck in flooding.  As it were, our fears were unfounded and although it was muddy, the rain had stopped by the time we got there, and as the day went on, we even got a tiny bit of blue sky.

Rai Valley is a small valley between Blenheim and Nelson, and rather beautiful.  It has the gorgeous Pelorus River, lush farmland, and is always a pleasure to drive through.  The art indicating male/female on the public loos there, is superb!

The show itself is held not far from the main road, and has a natural ampitheatre where the gymkhana events are held...

After judging the photo competition inside the hall, Liz and I got out cameras out and walked around the show, and talked to some of the gorgeous looking locals...

We watched some of the cows being judged, and I learnt that they're judged on the way they walk around their udders,  and their strong ligament at the back of them, so the udders don't droop as they get older.  Sounds like us women could do with those so we don't droop when we are older either!

The best part of the show was the Rai Challenge.  A team effort where one has to Shear a Sheep, Skin a Possum, and carry a Wild Pig around an Obstacle course.  The best team gets the following log of wood as a trophy.  I'm not sure who won it at the end, but it was a load of fun to watch and photograph.  I must warn you here though, that if you're squeamish, I advise you to stop looking at this blogpost now.  I also want to let you know, that Possums in New Zealand are pests - and the only good possum is a dead one.  They have no natural predators here, and are busy eating their way through our native forests, killing trees.  We have about 6 billion of them, and they're incredibly hard to get rid of.  Which is why they are hunted and we've turned possum fur into a million dollar industry.

Shearing the sheep was no problem for this man - he's obviously an old hand at it!

I watched and learnt how to skin the possum, as the process is the same for rabbits, and I wanted to know how so I can skin my cats catch.  The outcome would be a nice blanket for her.  Unfortunately she's stopped catching rabbits.  Perhaps she doesn't want a new blanket?

The obstacle course for the wild boar, probably caught the morning of the race.  Now this particular animal would have been about 60kg (or so I was told).  It was pretty big.  Marlborough area has lots of hunting areas - lots of bush/forests, and I know of some people that hunt as a way to top up their freezer when out of work.

The boar actually looks quite comfy...  But a lot of effort is being expended by the human!

The obstacle consisted on going downhill, then alongside a small track on the side of a hill, running, over a huge hay bale...
 Then through a concrete pipe...

What really impressed me was the women's team.  I thought this woman was the best sheep shearer - no nips or cuts and just as quick as the men - strong but gentle.  That's a woman for you.
This woman was actually better, neater and did a better job than the men at skinning the possum as well.
And hats off to the lady in the pink shirt.  She finished the obstacle course and it wasn't easy.  She must be incredibly strong.  That boar is hefty.
The time keeper assured me that the Rai Valley A&P show is the best one in the country, and his job was the most important, so important that he needed a photo.  I obliged!  He's probably right too.
The spectators were all dressed in their finery.  There should have been a prize for the most funky gumboots! Maybe I'll suggest it next year!  This lady would have won hands down.
Past the obstacle course was the classic car collection...
With a 1937 Chevvy...
And a line of very old tractors...  Most of them still went.  They were obviously built to last!

And a very old 1800s traction engine.  I think that's what the guy said it was.  If I'm wrong, please correct me.  This one has been restored to working order after lying around rusting at an old sawmill nearby.
No A&P show would be without the axe competition...
After a few hours, we headed indoors to see the results of the cake making competitions, and the kids artwork.  There was also a flower competition. This is one of the Dahlias on display.
No country show would be complete without the giant pumpkin competition.  This one came first...
Had a great time - and I'll be back next year.  Perhaps we should put in a team for the Rai Challenge - any of you readers up for it?  What about an Auckland Womens Team?


Morgan said...

Looks like you had lots of fun. I presume the wild boars were dead? They are pretty feisty buggers so can't imagine someone lugging one around alive.

What's the deal with the cow? Looks like it's bones are sticking out unnaturally. Or is that some illusion?

Trust you to take a rude looking picture of the pumpkin. Guh!

Love the picture of the dog.

Robyn said...

I had loads of fun. The boars were dead and gutted.

The cow is bred like that, She had quite a lot of meat on her, so that's just how they look. I've always remembered that cows are boney as I've ridden one before.

I never even noticed that the pumpkin was rude - trust you to pick that up lol Can't understand why I ever thought you were sweet and innocent.

The dog is gorgeous - about 18 months old.