Looking back on the Heathcote Show

November 4, 2023 BY

Raise your hat: Every Heathcote Show is the result of countless hours of hard work behind the scenes. These were the show committee and officials in 1915. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE first Heathcote Spring Show took place on 15 November 1882.

Its supporters, including the McIvor Times, hoped that competing for show honours would help district farmers improve their produce as well as raising the profile of the area.

This was the beginning of a long and almost unbroken series of annual shows that have drawn crowds from across the region and beyond.

Each show is a testament to the hard work of the competitors, the committee, and many other volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make the day a success.

Apart from recent cancellations due to COVID and flooding, Second World War petrol rationing helped keep the gates shut in 1940.

The following newspaper extracts provide a glimpse into both the serious and more light hearted moments of the show’s past.

Bouquets: This second prize certificate was printed by the McIvor Times press in 1883 and was awarded to a member of the Hollingsworth family for an entry in the floral competition. Photo: BARBARA SUNGAILA


McIvor Times 16 November 1894

The Thirteenth Annual Show of the Heathcote Agricultural, Pastoral, and Horticultural Society took place on Wednesday.

For some time past it has been the wish of both young and old that they should be favoured with a fine day, and we are pleased to say that none were disappointed, as the weather was all that could be desired.

From early morning up to 10 o’clock strings of exhibits could be seen passing by to the show ground, and from about 9am till 3 and 4 pm the visitors were going to the ground with their minds made up to cast away the thoughts of all business worries and of the depression for at least Show Day.

The show from every point of the ground presented a most picturesque appearance, and Heathcote should indeed be proud of being the possessor of one of the most beautiful grounds in the colony.

To stand on the hill near the booth and look down on the lawn, it is really no wonder that the ladies turned out in such force and promenaded this walk with as much comfort and pleasure as they would the Lawn at Flemington on a hot over-crowded day.


McIvor Times 6 December 1895

A large amount of interest was taken in the rough riding at the Heathcote Show.

There were four entries. The first horse had reputation quite equal to Mark Twain’s Mexican plug.

He was carefully brought in, the police drawing back the crowd for about three chains.

A gang of powerful men held him with stout ropes, while a bag was pulled over his head.

Strange to say, although the animal was treated with as much care as if he were an infernal machine, to the casual spectator he presented a very placid appearance, and continued to calmly chewing the cud during saddling operations.

When, however he was mounted, and the bag removed, his ferocious nature at once asserted itself.

Gathering himself into a ball he suddenly bounded into the air with fearful velocity to a height of fully three inches.

On his return to terra firma he seemed so much pleased that he at once began to eat grass.

The grazing right of the ground is, however, let and the stewards were compelled to order him off.

The second horse was too nervous to perform for fear of frightening the ladies.

It did not take more than three quarters of an hour to saddle him up.

The third horse was ridden by Texas Jack who at once broke the last record for saddling up.

His horse displayed no other peculiarity than of being able to walk on the end of his nose and the point of his tail, which is of course nothing when you were used to it.

It seemed to be tiring for the exhibition only lasted 19 and 3/4 seconds.

The fourth and last one was also written by Texas Jack, who, after securing an iron grip on its ear, mounted, but the animal remained firmly on its feet.

Jack tried all his skill on his mount, but without avail, the animal was immovable and those of the crowd who remained were firmly of the opinion that he was glued there.

I have my own opinion, but will only say that the next time I go to Heathcote I intend to pay a visit to the showground to see if that horse is still there.


McIvor Times 7 November 1918

Show day in Heathcote is show day for a large number of people who live in the districts surrounding our town, and so keen an interest do they take in it that they travel many miles at considerable inconvenience to be present.

For is not the Heathcote Show their show? Is it not the place where they can meet and see the good points and the defects in stock of all classes?

And, even if they are not interested in these important matters, they always manage to find something to make the day out an interesting one.

Even mum and the kids enjoy being at the show, though in some cases it means being up half the night to allow of them being present.

Such is the impelling force which draws them into their little bush capital to witness its most important annual function.

The show, upon this occasion, is the fifth which will be held since the outbreak of hostilities in Europe.

But the hope of an early peace and a complete victory never once looked so certain during the whole of that time as it does today, and it would be with gladdened hearts the people would attend the show in if peace were declared before the 13th November.


Judgement day: Assessing the cookery entries in 1946. Photo: WEEKLY TIMES

Kilmore Free Press 25 July 1940

After a long discussion the committee of management of the Heathcote Agricultural and Pastoral Society, at a meeting held on Saturday afternoon, 20th July, decided to abandon the 1940 spring show in view of the seriousness of the international situation and the uncertainty of the future.

Mr JS Hayes considered that the show would have to be abandoned.

It was very regrettable but this action was necessary.

The show had not been a financial success for the past three or four years, through no fault of the committee.

They had good shows but had not been able to make them a financial success for stop the loss had not been much some years, but others they had gone back appreciably.

It would be impossible, in his opinion, to run the show under the present conditions without losing very considerably.

If this were done the society would be in a bad financial position and without prospects.

With petrol rationing there would be little prospect of getting a gate and exhibitors would have their activities restricted.

Therefore, he could see no hope but adding to the present overdraft.

Mr AE Morrison said three out of four societies in the state were not carrying on with their shows, and people were not going to get their stock ready to bring to the Heathcote Show.

Major FG Code considered the show should be abandoned for this year.

It would be a difficult matter, he contended, to solicit money for the show when the Red Cross and other funds required so much help.