For over 100 years the Yea Show has been a proud tradition for the region
Although the Yea A. P. & H. Association only celebrated its Centenary in 2014, our early citizens were involved in eighteen shows and exhibitions before the first Yea Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Show in 1909.
In 1874 the Yea & Alexandra Pastoral and Agricultural was formed with a predominance of Yea citizens on the committee but seventeen of these early exhibitions were held at Alexandra and only one at Yea. The first proposed Show in 1874, to be held in Yea, was nearly postponed because of a general election and the prevalence of a Diphtheria epidemic in the district at that time.
In 1909 a public meeting was called in Yea for the purpose of forming a committee to stage an agricultural show. Seventy people attended the meeting on 30th September 1909 and this energetic committee held their first Yea Show on 18th November 1909, a magnificent effort in such a short timeframe, not only to organize the competitions but to build the infrastructure needed to hold the livestock and other exhibits.
The first Show was held on a Thursday afternoon and evening and “although there was still a lot of work to do on show morning, a scene of animation was evident everywhere. Visitors flooded in from neighbouring towns with special trains running from Seymour, Alexandra and Mansfield. The crowd was largest at 4pm and gate receipts realized a very favourable eighty pounds”.
For the second show in 1910 a record 600 people came down from Mansfield by special train with their livestock also on board and that town staged ‘a marvellous exhibition’. In 1911 a Dairy Herd competition was introduced which ran for many years reflecting the large dairy industry in the district at that time with the Yea & Mansfield Dairy Factory, still a prominent building in the town exporting butter throughout Australia and to the ‘Mother Country’. In later years the Dalgety Beef Herd competition reflected the trend towards Beef rather than Dairy herds and was highly contested locally with several of our local properties winning the state finals.
The 1915 Show was pronounced a great success despite the adverse conditions produced by the war and the prolonged drought and a profit of five pounds was made after donating twenty pounds to the patriotic fund. Over the years of WW1 the Yea Show committee continued to donate the bulk of monies raised to various war effort causes such as the Lady Stanley Fund for Wounded and Disabled Soldiers. The Yea Chronicle reported record entries and that “the main Pavilion was a big attraction for the ladies for in it was exhibited all that is dear to the feminine heart”.
The Yea Show has continued down through the years despite battling the Depression, adverse weather conditions and the shortage of labour during the war years. The Show was cancelled for a few years during the Second World War and again in 1981 because of a local bushfire and in 2011 all horse events in the arena were abandoned with the arena underwater because of torrential rain in the early hours.
Over the years the show has continued to reflect the trends and fads in agriculture and home industries. A huge range of animals and breeds have come and gone. The Yea district was predominantly a dairying and wool and fat lamb district for most of its early history but now beef cattle, both stud and commercial, are predominant and this is reflected in the cattle show at Yea being one of the best in the state.
Horses have also always been a strong feature at Yea with many of our local riders among the top riders in the state, including in show jumping which always had a strong following of the nation’s top show jumpers. Local show jumper Jim Slavin created a record 6’1” height at Yea and each year a special prize was offered to beat that record but it was never equalled.
Side Show Alley has always been an integral part of any agricultural show and for many years was one of the greatest attractions for all ages. Who could forget the boxing tents, the circus acts, the novelty ‘freak’ shows, the spruikers on the high platforms in front of the tents, many a great performer in their own right, which gave the shows such a great atmosphere. It has all changed now with the emphasis on “the bigger. the wilder, the better” concept for rides and the costs involved for these mega machines preclude their attendance in small one-day shows with a resulting fall in attendance among young people.
The 2014 Centenary Show included a Friday evening Carnival with a very successful Fireworks display and so the evening Carnival now forms part of the festivities with a combined entry fee to both the Friday evening and Saturday.
A competition for the best decorated bike at the Yea Show
Marion Cummins. C.1952
An enormous amount of effort is put into organizing the Show so that the public can celebrate the best in agriculture, horticulture, crafts, cooking, photography and Country Excellence in a picturesque surrounding.