One of the Municipality’s residents remembers having to walk the family show cattle to town from Jerrara, and then spending hours washing and brushing the animals in preparation for their time in on parade. The show was the big event in the community calendar. A time to meet up with friends and family, show their animals and produce, and picnic at the showground.
The Kiama Agricultural and Horticultural Society was established in 1848, to promote prosperity, development of agriculture and breeding in the area. The first Kiama show was held in 1849 at the Fitzroy Inn and brewery on Collins St. The cattle were penned in yards on the present infants school site and the horses were shown where the Presbyterian Church is located.
The second Kiama Show (1850), started with a ploughing match in Jamberoo. The show was reported to have showcased the high quality livestock of the region as well as wine, cheese, bacon, butter, fruit and vegetables and herbs and spices.
The Kiama Show wasn’t held from 1858 to 1867 due to pleuro-pneumonia outbreaks amongst cattle herds in the district, rust in the wheat and drought. Market Square was then used as the showground until 1877, when the post office was built. The show then moved to Blowhole Point where a large slab building was erected. The show remained at the point for almost ten years, until it was required for the lighthouse in 1886. A new site was purchased by the society in 1886 at Long Brush on Saddleback Road. The pavilion, grandstand, stockyards and ring were all of a very high standard. The first show on this site in February 1887, had more than 6000 attending over the 2 days of the show.
Ultimately, the Long Brush site proved to be too far from town and up a long hill. The show committee was given permission to use Church Point (current show site) in 1896. The buildings, fixtures and fittings were all dismantled and relocated to Church Point with the pavilion rebuilt near the Church of England. This pavilion was dismantled in 1924 and again rebuilt at the southern end of the showground.
The produce and exhibits of the shows reveal changes to the interests, farming and technology over the years, whilst the non competitive exhibits allowed people to keep informed with curios from around the world and up to date with latest farming equipment such as milking machines, separators and mowing machines. The show was also a wonderful day of entertainment and socialising with many side show attractions, the boxing tent and refreshments.
The lovely timber pavilion was destroyed by fire in August 1938. While the community discussed building another pavilion, World War Two was declared. After waiting 28 years, Kiama gained a new show pavilion and grandstand in 1966. The current Kiama Showground Pavilion was completed in 2009. The Kiama Agricultural Society was intrinsic to the development of the early farming and stock breeding in the region, as well as the economic, political and social life of the community. If you would like to read more about the show, Karen Beasley has written a wonderful account of the Kiama Show and Agricultural Society, Kiama On Show, published by the Kiama Show Society in 1997. This book is available in the library.