In the early 1900’s, there was considerable discussion amongst district landowners in regard to holding a Show, with many new settlers having arrived from Victoria, where the benefits of agricultural societies were fully recognised. At the time, the Farmers’ and Settlers’ Association was very well supported and held an annual Carnival.
A Pastoral and Agricultural (P & A) Association was established in Gilgandra on 25 March 1911 with a management committee elected at its first general meeting, held at the Imperial Hotel. This meeting also resolved to investigate the availability of suitable sites for a Show ground.
The first committee meeting of the Gilgandra P & A Association was held at Tattersall’s Hotel on Saturday 6th May 1911, at 4pm. Acting Secretary Arthur Fitzhardinge was voted to the chair, and announced the ballot for the election of officers and committee as follows: President: William Stockings; Vice-Presidents: Messrs. Robert Stanley, Henry McClure, Arthur F. Garling; Committee, Messrs. Arthur Fitzhardinge, Edward E. Beveridge, Neil I. McLennan, Harry Stockings, William Priddle, William C. Rolls, Oliver J. McCutcheon, John Kemp-Bruce, William Creenaune, Henry Machin, Archibald Rogers, James J. O’Brien, Edward J. Foley, George Chandler, Gustav A. Semmler, Robert Moad, James Patrick, William E. Linke, Thomas Foran, Walter Hickman, John M. McCarthy, John Lithgow, Wilhelm H. Scholz, Peter J. Anderson, Horatio Beveridge, Charles H. Richards, Phillip J. Whiteman, Albert Townsend, John E. M. Gilmour and Dr. Henry Peet. The Secretary’s allowance was fixed at £50 per annum on the motion of Messrs. Moad and Scholz. Efforts to secure a show ground were made at this meeting and on the motion of Messrs. Moad and Machin, it was decided that the President (Mr. Stockings), Messrs, Stanley, McClure, Rankin and the Secretary be appointed as a subcommittee to enquire into the suitability of available sites for a showground and to report to the general committee.
The next meeting of the committee was held on 20th May 1911, at the Royal Hotel and Mr. Fitzhardinge was appointed Secretary by 16 votes to 11. The other applicant was Mr. Henry W. Mitchell.
A report to the management meeting held on 11th September 1911 indicated that the Department of Lands had agreed to the allocation of a parcel of land adjoining the railway station. The committee agreed that a parcel of 35 acres should be applied for.
The first Gilgandra Show was held on Wednesday 15th May 1912 at the Racecourse, as the permanent Showground site had not yet been developed. The Show was officially opened by the then Minister for Agriculture, Mr. John Trefle. A crowd of over 2,500 attended, and entries numbered 800, far exceeding the expectations of the committee.
In 1913 the Show was held Gilgandra Showground for the first time, following completion of the (original) main pavilion which still stands. Gilgandra P & A Association joined the Royal Agricultural Society in October of that year.
On 19th October 1918, Keith McAllister, Walter A. Barden and Harry Stockings were appointed as the first Showground Trustees.
The first Show Ball was held in 1934, and by 1936 membership had increased to almost 500 with Show entries exceeding 2,000.
Gilgandra Show was abandoned for 1942 due to the Second World War, with one-day patriotic events held in 1943 and 1944 to aid the war effort. A two-day patriotic Show was held on 14 and 15 August 1945, with the second day coinciding with the announcement of the Japanese surrender. The full two-day Show returned in 1946 after a four-year break.
In 1947, the Show date was changed from August to May.
In the following decades, many improvements were made to the Showground, including new main pavilion, offices, luncheon pavilion, amenities blocks, poultry pavilion, bar, steel cattle yards, and upgraded water and power supplies. In addition to the annual Show, the ground has been utilised for harness racing, pony club, polo crosse, kennel club shows, rodeos, cricket matches, livestock sales, an isolation camp, scout rally, social gatherings and live entertainment.
In 1988, the Gilgandra P & A Association became incorporated as Gilgandra Show Society Inc.
The 100th annual Show was held in 2015.
During 2019-20, a new dining hall and offices were built on the site of the former Secretary’s office and Committee room.
While the 2020 Show was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two new amenities blocks were commissioned during the year. A new stable block was constructed in 2021.
Gilgandra Show Society Inc. is proud to present the annual Show as a celebration of our local agricultural heritage and ongoing achievements.