History

From the Past

The first Livestock Show was held in the yards of Payne’s Hotel in Hindley Street in October 1843 where cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses were exhibited. Reports in the Register described the day as a great success with the weather being “uncommonly propitious”.

In 1856 the Society staged the colony’s first art exhibition. There were one hundred and seventy eight entries, with thirty being from the well-known artist ST Gill.

At the 1867 Show, which was attended by HRH Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, five hundred and sixty three classes were offered for entries, with another three hundred in the ‘unenumerated’ class. This section was open to any colonist who had acquired, made or grown, anything that they considered would be of interest to their fellow colonists.

A class for the best collection of produce grown on one farm (not less than twenty varieties) was introduced in 1893. The winning entry exhibited a staggering two hundred and eight four varieties.

An egg laying competition was introduced in 1904 with eggs classes continuing until 1967. These were re-introduced in 1997.

1914 saw the first competition for ‘Sheaf Throwing’, later changing to Sheaf Tossing, with nineteen entries and the winner, S Wait, throwing thirty-two feet.

Knitting and crocheting classes were added to the Arts and Craft section in 1933.

At the 1938 Royal Adelaide Show, a special feature was the introduction of a class for International Quilt.

In 1988, Adelaide was the first Royal Show to introduce classes for women in the Woodcutting section.

Clydesdale classes came to an end in 1957 but were re-introduced in 1977. Just prior to WWII in South Australia, there were 195,000 horses and less than 6,000 tractors. In 1957 the numbers were 41,000 horse and 26,000 tractors.

‘Show Jumping’ was introduced in the horse section in 1952, and parent and child riding contest in 1977.

An international judge was used for the first time at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show in 1985.

In 2001 Blacksmith & Farriers classes were re-introduced; the first classes being held in 1917.

Just prior to the Goyder Pavilion being officially opened in 2008, a time capsule was buried at the northern end of the building and is due to be opened in 2058

 

More than One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago  
It was reported that at the Ploughing Match in February 1864, “Astonishing crowds from the country and a vast assemblage of the youth and beauty of the Colony” were in attendance.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Society, it was decided to send a deputation to the Government once again to lobby for an experimental and educational farm.

More than One Hundred and Twenty Five Years Ago
The Livestock Show of 1889 saw cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, dogs, poultry, dairy produce, agricultural machinery, implements, fruit, vegetables and flowers exhibited at the Exhibition Buildings and Grounds.

In November, a trial of reapers and twine-binders was held on the farm of Mr William Griffiths at Salisbury.

1914
1914 saw the first competition for “Sheaf Throwing” (later Sheaf Tossing). There were nineteen entries and the winner was S Wait with 32 feet. The event caused “considerable enthusiasm”.

The showgrounds nursery was much appreciated by mothers with young children.  It consisted of a marqueè with six cots and two crawling pens, a sand heap, books and 'two daintily attired maids' with supplies of biscuits and milk. The price for this service was 3d per child. 

1964
In 1964 after a break of fourteen years, St Bernard dogs were once again exhibited in the dog section.

Approximately £20,000 was spent on the Heavy Horse Memorial Club House, the first of its type in Australia, and was officially opened by the Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, in July.

Admission fees for adults was 5/- and 1/- for children. Life membership was 50 guineas, annual membership £3/10/- and junior membership £1/5/-

Entertainment included Scottish dancing with a difference! One hundred and thirty eight ponies and riders from pony clubs arranged in sets of eight performed a combination of movements adapted from Scottish dances. 

1989
As a special 150th year celebration, the Society held a ball in Centennial Hall on 5 August. This was a huge success attracting a crowd of 1262, which included His Excellency the Governor, the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and other dignitaries. The Society also hosted a dinner for the Presidents and their partners of the Societies and organizations, with the “Royal” prefix. 

If you are interested in additional information regading our Archives please click here to visit the Archives page.