The Chapman Valley Show

Written by Delma Attrill

A flower exhibition was held for some years during the 1940’s by the folk around Nanson. In 1949 the Nanson Show Committee held an Annual Flower and Industrial Exhibition in the Nanson Hall and from this the Nanson District Agricultural Society was formed and the 1st Annual Show was held on the 7th October 1950.

There were just 12 sections and the most entry classes being in Ring Events with 17 but closely followed by Cookery & Preserves and Arts & Crafts both with 15. Entry fee for exhibits was 6d, with First Prize Money being 1/6d.

There was no section for Sheep, just 2 entries in the Wool Section, but these days there are varying classes in sheep and wool.

The Office Bearers for the first show were –

Patron – Dr J McAleer JP

President – Mr P.A. McDonnell

Hon Treasurer – SJ Bunter

Hon Auditor – TM Murphy

Secretary – D Worthington

Asst Secretary – JJ Curtin

Committee – Messrs T Wright, S Murphy, R Gould, M Wilton, F Cooper, C Browning and MJ Carrol.

Those who were Stewards that year were – Messrs R Gould, H McGillivray, S Murphy, C Browning, C Murphy, F Cooper, LJ Murphy, M Wilton, TH Wright, PA McDonnell, MJ Carrol, Mesdames E Reilly, du Boulay, S Murphy, Stevens, Burgess and Miss Alma Murphy.

The Show was probably the highlight of the year, as many months before the event saw much activity – would the flowers and veges be “right on the day” – will I get the embroidered duchess set finished” – “will I finish knitting the bedjacket” and “will the kids handwriting “in pen” be OK on the day” – and the sheep! – There was much watching of these precious Merinos.

And not only that, we had the added pressure of a new outfit for everyone for the day and something very glamorous for the Show Ball. I think a lot of us looked forward to the Show as that was the time of the year for a new dress (especially us kids).

When I look back I do wonder how it all came together, as all the District was involved – it meant “everyone” entered exhibits, “everyone” worked on Show Day as a Steward, a Judge or in some other capacity, “everyone” cooked food for the super at the Show Ball at night and “everyone” was at the Ball to dance the night away – it was certainly a community effort and it was a success then and is a credit to all that it has continued to be a District success.

By the time of the Second Show the Committee had affiliated with the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia (RASWA). After 4 years the name changed to the Chapman Valley Agricultural Society and by 1954 the sections in the show had increased dramatically and there was a need for a new venue and the Fifth Show was held in its present location, Nanson Showgrounds.

Over the years there have been many changes and its pleasing to note that the committees over the years accepted those changes whether its to add sections or actually delete them if the district had moved on.

Admission prices have always been low, with children from the onset being admitted free and then from the Eleventh Show pensioners were not been charged. There has been some really bumper years especially when the Valley has bloomed. Many people travel long distances to attend the Show and many Geraldton folk drive out on that day to get their “country fix”.

We can only say congratulations and well done to everyone involved.


The Show Ball

What a glamorous night this was, it was featured in the early schedules as the “Grand Ball at Night” and stated that the Prices were Popular, there would be a Good Orchestra and there would be the Presentation of Trophies.

Beautiful gowns, gloves or mittens, the nicest jewellery and even furs – my, it was a night to remember! Many of these dresses were sewn at home and not only for the lady of the house, but for the kids as well – we all remember a new dress for Show Day and a new dress for the Ball at night.

But how did it come together as we must remember it was a District Show with District folk preparing exhibits for the Show weeks before, making cakes and food for the Show Ball supper and being all day at the show as a Steward or a helper in some way. But it did and there we were dancing the night away – often to 1am or 2am – Yes, it was Grand!

The Balls were first held in the Nanson Hall and then in 1956 they alternated each year with Nabawa until about 1968 when they were held in the Yuna Memorial Hall.

It looks as though the Balls may have lapsed around 1969 although I see in 1981 and for a few years after that the Ball is advertised in the Schedule. I need to check on this.