History of the Gatton Show Society
The earliest Shows held in Gatton were held alternately with Laidley under the guidance of a combined committee until Laidley felt it should conduct its own Show and this was agreed upon at a meeting of representatives from both centres. This arrangement started back in the 1890’s.
In 2016 the Gatton Show Society Inc held its 100th Show and was originally known as the Lockyer Agricultural and Industrial Society, this change occurred in 1977 on the suggestion of the then president Wally Mason, MBE. Early meetings were held on moonlight nights, as roads were in a poor state and some members would have ridden their horse to attend. The early Shows were held on a date in July nearest the full moon and today our Show is held on the 29th Saturday of each year.
The first President was Jas McGarrigal, Secretary was John Fielding and the Treasurer was E. Whittle in 1915.
Horses, dairy cattle, poultry and farm produce were some of the exhibits seen at the early Shows in the 1920’s but as the years past, cotton was a prominent display crop, pigs were popular because of the Industry’s association with dairying , trotting, Olympic Jumping, poultry, cookery, sewing and needlecraft, stud beef cattle, goats, sheep, working cattle dogs, wood cop and the fine arts all became part of the Show. Some of these exhibits can still be seen at current Shows while others have disappeared from the Shows schedule for varying reasons.
One of the first reported Show Balls from an old newspaper clipping is that: “a Ball was successfully held on June 25th 1925 and the Theme was “Blue Birds”. A Euchre tournament was held at the Ball for both the women and the men. Balls were held up until 2007 and as attendance numbers dwindled it was decided not to hold them anymore, but one was held as part of the 100 year celebrations.
In 1935, the three-day show was opened by a former Gatton resident, Lord Huntingfield, then Governor of Victoria. He had grown up in Gatton and returned with his parents to England some 37 years earlier.
The Show during the second World War saw changes occur with the Show going from a 3 day to a 2 day Show and also in 1942 a grand patriotic show was held and organisations joined together to conduct stalls on a larger scale than ever seen in Gatton before.
In 1946 after the war, Charlie Jamieson became president and electricity was installed at the grounds. A perusal of Life Members of the Gatton Show Society in 2008 revealed many names synonymous with the Show since its inception.
In the 1970’s the first Night Programs were introduced and today this is one of the major attractions of our Show. Over the years there have been many changes to the Showgrounds with new pavilions for cattle, sheep and poultry, an Equestrian Centre and the Gatton Sports Centre now on the grounds. These are all used during the Show as well as all year round.