I am not sure when the first show started. There is mention of a country show being held in Hamley Bridge in 1882 in the South Australian Advertiser, but the first official annual Hamley Bridge Show run by the Hamley Bridge Agricultural, Horticultural and Floricultural Society, was held in 1903. The HBS became a very popular country show attracting around 2,000 people each year. The Society purchased 13 acres of land for the show to be held on, and was the only show at the time to be self-funded and not receive tax-payers money in Government grants. After the 1913 HBS, the show was halted during the war years and the depression years. It resumed again in 1946, after a 33 year break, and was opened by The Premier, Thomas Playford and was attended by over 2,000 people.
During the 1930’s, a Flower and Handicraft Show, was run instead.
1968 is when the last Hamley Bridge Show was held.
1904 Advert of the train times for the Hamley Bridge Show
There are so many shows to choose from, I will highlight on the 1904 show, as I have a photo of part the crowd!
1904 – part of the crowd attending the Hamley Bridge Show
HAMLEY BRIDGE SHOW - September 1904
Hamley Bridge, the junction of the northern and north-eastern railway systems until four years ago was unable to boast of a show. Then a floral and industrial society held its first exhibition in 1903. This body developed into an agricultural society, and having acquired suitable grounds, conducted a full-fledged country show. Though the success of last year's event was much marred, by wet weather, the ideal atmospheric, conditions which prevailed on Friday, when the second annual show on the new grounds took place, fully compensated for the previous failure. A young society, it is going ahead by leaps and bounds, and its show is certain in the near future to rank among the important northern fixtures. The grounds are 13 acres in extent, and situated at the northern end of the town. The arena, which is suitably fenced, is an admirable one, the reserve being planted with ornamental trees, which in a few years ought to render it very attractive. Recently the iron pavilion has been increased to 50ft. x 70ft., and water is laid on at various points on the property.
Photo taken in 2001 – looks a bit sad and neglected
The attendance, the entries, and the show in general turned out to be records in every particular, for a good deal of which the society has to thank its hard-working and cool-headed secretary (Mr. M. Finey). The horses provided a very good ring display. Roadsters were prominent, and the jumping proved interesting. There were no high fences to be negotiated, but what jumping there was, was clean, no falls whatever being noticed. Some excellent ponies were seen, some of which were prize takers at Adelaide. Harvesting machinery was fairly well represented. The dairy produce was first class, and the judges considered it worthy of the Adelaide show. The entries were thrice those of last year. Butter, as well as bacon, was particularly fine. The prize merino wool was specially noteworthy for its fine texture and weight. Wheat and chaff were of fair quality and the collections of green fodder very creditable. Rye grass was shown over 6 ft. in height. Vegetables varied considerably in quality, as is usually noticed at northern exhibitions. The flower exhibits were on the whole of a high character.
In the poultry section there were 250 entries of fowls alone, the Game birds being particularly good. A similar remark applied to Wyandottes, Orpingtons, Leghorns, Plymouth Rocks, and Malays. Some exhibitors of breeding pens, containing a cock and three hens, showed as many as four varieties in one cage, instead of placing birds of one sort together. In ducks and geese competition was restricted. Dogs were fairly numerous. Features of the inside show were the displays of cookery, art, and school work. The art collection was stronger than last year, both numerically and in point of quality. The judge of the school work (Mr. H. A. Curtis) considered all the exhibits of great credit to the teachers, and he specially commended Miss Venning, of the Alma North school, and Miss Cameron, of Dalkey Hill. The Marrabel school also met with considerable success.
During, the afternoon the Hamley Bridge Brass Band discoursed some good music, and in the evening an entertainment was given in the new Institute Hall. The officials of the society are:-
President, Mr. J. Black; vice-president, Mr. J. Doyle; executive committee, Dr. Dawkins, Messrs. M. McCabe, J. Freebairn, J. Bell, J. G. Traeger, R. P. Hoepner, A. G. Brock, J. Tamblyn, A. P. Buckerfield, F. J. Hill, J. T. Quinn, and F. Bohnsack.
The 1904 Show Committee
Attendances for the Hamley Bridge Show:
1903 – unknown
1904 – unknown people and 1300 entries
1906 – unknown
1907 – unknown people and 1,200 entries
1908 – 2,000 people and 1,500 entires
1909 – nearly 3,000 people and 1,400 entries
1910 – 2,500 people and unknown entries
1911 – good attendance and unknown entries
1912 – 1,428 people and unknown entries
1913 – 1,532 people and unknown entries
1946 – over 2,000 people and unknown entries
1947 – nearly 3,000 people and 2,000 entries
1949 – 2,500 people and more than 2,000 entires
1950 – over 3,000 people and 2,000 entries
1953 – nearly 2,500 people and unknown entries