11 March 2022

Yass sticks to tradition when it comes to putting on a show

| Sally Hopman
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Newspaper clipping of show

Descendants of many of the family names featured in this 1939 Country Life image still live in Yass – and volunteer at the show. Photo: Yass Show Society.

Some country agricultural shows rely on noisy rides, louder people and ear-splitting music to draw the crowds. In Yass, it’s tradition that brings people through the gate – in droves.

At 159 this year, the Yass event is one of the oldest surviving agricultural shows on the NSW circuit. From the finest wool to the sweetest jams, lightest sponge to the brightest dahlia and perfect patchwork, it continues to put the best of the bush on display.

Its history traces back to 1863 when the Yass Pastoral and Agricultural Association was established. It became the Yass Show Society in 1989 with its permanent home secured at the showground at the top of the town.

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The show has almost always gone on; only COVID in recent years has cancelled it or reduced it from two days to one.

But for Yass Show president Anne Hazell, the one-day show has proved a winner for both volunteers and visitors.

By combining all the activities into one day, the show, she said, had managed to retain its rural roots and provide the best entertainment for city and country folk alike.

City folk were treated to woodchopping, displays of antique farm machinery, vintage and veteran cars, showjumping and dog and livestock events. Inside the showground’s roundhouse – where the best of the town’s produce goes on display – visitors can see baked goods, jams and preserves, flowers, vegetables, artwork, needlework and craft on show.

For country folk, it’s more a matter of catching up with friends they might not have seen since the last show and checking in to see if their entry has got a blue or red ribbon attached to it yet.

Woman and man

President of the Yass Show Society, Anne Hazell, with past president Rob McAuliffe. Photo: Ross Stirton.

Yass Show Society president Anne Hazell believes the event, which is on Saturday, 19 March this year, is popular because it brings the two groups together; in particular, showing city folk the richness of country life.

“We are pleased to continue being a traditional country show,” she said. “It seems to be what people want.

“It’s been great to see a new wave of interest in the show. We’ve had an increase in new sponsors and we’ve seen an increase in the number of volunteers coming up.”

Anne said community involvement was key to a good local show, which was why groups like the Yass Hospital Auxiliary ran the show canteen and the local Red Cross was always on hand to provide refreshments.

Anne, who has lived in Yass for 22 years and is in her second year as show president, said one of the highlights for her this year was the creation of a new children’s area in the rodeo arena. “We’ve organised scavenger hunts around the showground and lots of games for the kids – it’s a place where they can have lots of fun.”


Fine wool fleece is a hotly contested section of the Yass Show every year. Photo: Yass Show Society.

Shows like Yass are only successful, Anne said, because of the support of volunteers. As is common in the bush, if your mother or father volunteered as a steward at the show, chances are you would, too, once you could tell the difference between crochet and knitting.

That’s been the case for Monica Field who has acted as steward for almost every section at the Yass Show, from needlework to jams to horse events.

Monica has lived in the Yass Valley for all her 87 years – except for two when she went to Cowra – and can’t remember ever missing a show.

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“I know my parents never missed one,” she said. “I got involved about 60 years ago with the pony club… My husband and father were also involved with the show.”

Her husband, the late Allan Field, was show ringmaster for a time.

Monica was almost a fixture in the Needlework Section of the show as Chief Steward for about 12 years – a role she loved. Working with the section judge, the needlework entries would be examined for the most minute details.

“You’d look to see what condition it was in, if it was a little bit grubby or you’d look at the embroidery under a magnifying glass to make sure all the stitches were straight,” Monica said, adding that some years, there’d be up to 50 entries in the one class.

As a keen needlewoman herself, does she have a stack of ribbons at home? “I’ve probably won a few champion ribbons over the years,” she said, modestly.

The 2022 Yass Show is on Saturday, 19 March. Gates open at 8 am. Tickets can be booked online.

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