Backward Glance – Sunshine Coast Show through sands of time

The Sunshine Coast Show had its beginnings in Woombye when the Maroochy Pastoral Agricultural Horticultural and Industrial Society was established in 1900 at a meeting held in the Woombye School of Arts building.

For the first Show, held on August 2 1900, a small area was levelled and fenced to create a show ring and round timber blocks were used for seating from Thomas Bartholomew Sawing and Planning Mill. About 1,500 people attended the event to enjoy displays of cooking, needlework, floral art and schoolwork. The sideshow alley consisted of three amusements including a merry-go-round.

On August 3 1900 the Brisbane Courier reported “In the history of Woombye, yesterday was a red-letter day and one which will be remembered by the residents who rolled up in goodingly numbers to witness the opening.”

As time went on, the show continued to be a hit with the community.

The fifth annual exhibition of the Maroochy Pastoral, Agricultural, Horticultural, and Industrial Association was declared a success.

The quality of exhibits had improved on that of previous years. Mr A H Benson, the Government Fruit Expert, commended the fruit display, stating it was the best he had seen in Australia.

About 2,000 people attended the sixth annual show, the first to run over two days.

Exhibitors included Mr Smilenski from Dulong, who exhibited 21 varieties of sugar cane, Mr Charles Rose who displayed a fine conical-shaped trophy of pineapples and Mr J T Lowe, the Nambour and Woombye butcher, who exhibited a display of hams, bacon, lard and other smoked meats.

During the 1920s, many school pig clubs exhibited as pig exhibits were very popular.

In 1926, Mapleton Pig Club received 16 entries from members to exhibit pigs at the Nambour Show. It was reported that it was the best showing of pigs outside Brisbane.

Pigs were judged on their age, size, shape, stance and overall appearance.

The success of school pig clubs was due to the efforts of Mr Shelton from the Department of Agriculture, his sincere efforts, personal tact and courtesy were noted.

The 1930s saw years of financial hardship which impacted on the show. However, there were changing types of exhibits.

Mr H Neville’s exhibit of attractive and distinctive Morris cars was very popular.

The Morris Minor series was described as being a wonder car with amazing performance since their introduction into the Australian market.

The Morris Isis Six model was described by one motoring editor as “a car that is far better propaganda for British trade than books of statistics and the massed verbiage of orators.”

Entertainment took on an international flavour with the Magnificent Tattooed Venus, who was tattooed from neck to toe in all the colours of the rainbow. The Magnificent Tattooed Venus was also the winner of the World’s Championship at the International Beauty competition.

In 1936, the Cossack Skaters performed feats of skill and daring on speed skates upon an elevated platform.

One of the most daring acts was when Demetri whirled his two partners together in mid-air whilst revolving at breakneck speed.

The 1940s saw a name change implemented by the committee as they became the Great North Coast Pastoral Agricultural, Horticultural and Industrial Society.

Shows were not held during the latter part of World War II (WWII), 1942-1946. During this time, the showground was occupied by the Fourth Field Ambulance of the Australian Army.

The first show after WWII was held in 1947 and was a great success, creating many records.

The financial success of this show allowed the committee to embark on a programme of improvements. They allocated 100 pounds to employ a permanent caretaker for the grounds.

In 1953, the official switching-on ceremony of floodlights at the Nambour show ring took place. Construction work was carried out by the Southern Electrical Authority and Swan’s Garage’s electrical staff carried out the installation.

In 1951, the show society joined with the community to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the inauguration of local government in Maroochy Shire.

As a tribute to and in recognition of the parts played in developing the district, Mr Matthew Carroll, one of the community’s oldest residents, officially opened the show.

Five hundred people attended the Jubilee Show Ball which was a night of great merriment.

In 1955, a search was held throughout Queensland for the 1955 Queen and Miss Golden Pineapple, as part of Golden Pineapple Week initiated by the show society.

In the 1960s, the Chairman of Trustees, J D Grimes agreed to hand over the showgrounds and assets to Maroochy Shire Council under certain conditions.

The society changed its name to the Sunshine Coast Show to reflect the renaming of the region to the Sunshine Coast.

In 1962, the evening entertainment was provided by Canadian Hell Drivers presented as part of a Queensland tour.

The evening show was attended by approximately 2000 people and comprised of action-packed sequences, including crash cars and high speed ramp jumps.

Vehicles featured were the 1962 EK Holden range of sedans and utilities provided by Nambour Holden dealers Williams Motor Company Pty Ltd.

Over the years, there have been many successful competitors – Fred Ivins, in 1918 won first prize for a copybook and later for his champion cattle.

Anne Richardson had a shoebox full of winning certificates for her ferns, cooking and jams and won the Busing Cup, a perpetual trophy for the most prizes won in a show.

Martha Bade, Alma Low, Trixie Duhs and Maureen Doneman over many years have taken numerous first places at the Sunshine Coast Show’s cookery, sweets and preserves section.

Alma’s tip for making a winning sponge was to use one day old eggs that have never been refrigerated, make sure the flour is fresh and sifted three times, develop a good eye for equal quantities in each cake pan and finally, know your own oven even it if is a wood stove with no thermostat.

Over the long history of the Sunshine Coast Show, many people have worked extremely hard and diligently to make the show what it is today.

So, when you walk through the gates this year, take a moment to pause and thank them for all their efforts, then head straight for the fairy floss.

Thanks to the Heritage Library staff for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Image details

Hero Image: Horses and riders and livestock in the Grand Parade, Nambour Show, ca 1960. Taken from the car park overlooking the main oval. Rodeo yards and Pony Club stables in background.

Image 1: Maroochy River sugarcane exhibit at the Sunshine Coast Show, Nambour, 1962

Image 2: Eudlo District Exhibit in the fruit hall at the annual show, Nambour, 1954. The Eudlo District fruit display gained first place in the Great North Coast Show in Nambour. The event was one of the show’s main attractions.

Image 3: Whole stick sugarcane on display at the entrance to the show pavilion, Nambour Showgrounds, July 1966

Image 4: Side Show Alley and rides at the annual Sunshine Coast Show, Nambour, 1970s. The showground served as a venue for the Presbyterian Church of Queensland camps from 1934 until the early 1940s. The last Church camp was held at the grounds in 1945.

Image 5: Annual show of the Maroochy Pastoral, Agricultural, Horticultural and Industrial Association, at Woombye, ca 1905

Image 6: Miss North Coast Show Girl Quest entrants, Nambour Show grounds, 1958

Image 7: Canadian Hell Drivers at the Nambour Showgrounds, May 1962. Presented as part of a Queensland tour.

Image 8: Volkswagen on display at the Sunshine Coast Show, Nambour, 1962. One of the many trade displays and exhibits featured at the annual show.

Image 9: Farmers bacon competition entries on display at the annual show, Nambour, 1961

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