The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Prevalebit. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 1881. Agricultural Shows.
TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 4.30 p. m. j
We regret to hear that the Ashburton Agricultural and Pastoral Association is not nearly as well supported by our farmers as so valuable a society should be. Considering the productiveness and talent of the farming district, and the comparatively large amount of enterprise possessed by our local agriculturalists, this seems strange. The late electoral district of Coleridge, of which Ashburton was the centre, is stated to have produced more than a quarter of the whole quantity of grain grown in the colony. It might, therefore, reasonably have been expected that the Ashburton Agricultural Association would have been one of the most flourishing in New Zealand, perhaps the most of all, with the exception of that of Christchurch. But special advantages are sometime the causes of special difficulties. It is asserted by several farmers that some two or thre of thee more wealthy of their number, encouraged by the quality and extent of the grazing land in the district have either imported or purchased in the colony stock of so superior a quality that it is idle to attempt to compete with them, and that is therefore useless either to compete at the annual show, or even subscribe, because it is impossible to obtain a prize. Now granting that the result specified is so certain, we fail to see that the conclusion mentioned follows. The object of all agricultural exhibitions is not to repay every farmer the amount of his subscription to the society, still less to send him away in pocket by the transaction, but to show what are the best kinds of sheep or cattle that can oe bred in the district, or that it may be worth while to introduce here. Surely no farmer or grazier with the slightest spirit would like to see inferior animals carrying, off :■ ' ; .0 !
first prizes, even though the exhibits to which they are awarded are thdir own. If the idea of agricultural shows was that by means of the prizes awarded every man would get his subscription money backj there would vei'y soon cease to be any subscribers and consequently any shows at all, because they would not be worth looking at. In looking on at any game of skill, one likes to see the best thing of the kind that can be seen, not some fair medium play ; in cricket the bowling of a Spofforth, the batting of a Bannerman, or the wicket-keeping of a Blackham; m billiards the wonderful spot strokes and cannons of a Roberts or a Cook ; and in chess the brilliant strategy of a Zukertort, a Blackburne, or Morphy. We have local men who can play these games with more or less skill; but who cares to look a t them ? So also in showing animals, grain, or other products, what people want to see is the very best thing of the kind that can be seen. The effect of this is that in course of time emulation is aroused, and no one, two, or three men can have everything their own way, and carry off all the prizes. It might, perhaps, be desirable—we do not assert that it would be—to confine all exhibitors to one prize in one class, instead of awarding, as is sometimes the case, a first, second and third pri2e in the same class to the same persorl. This is the only concession which it seems possible to make. And even this we Should scarcely care to suggest if it were not that the advantages 'ff Agricultural Societies and the importance of Agricultural Shows are so great that it is worth while to go out of the way in order to interest all farmers to join and take part in them. We hope to see during the winter months that the usual monthly meetings of the Ashburton Society are held, at which papers can be read by practical farmers on various subjects connected with agriculture. These meetings do a great deal of good, and nothing tends to develop an active interest in farming matters so much as the full discussion of them amongst the farmers themselves, and this can only be done by getting the latter to meet periodically at some central place, after the anxiety and work of a harvest season. By encouraging these meetings, we feel that our Agricultural Association will have increased its popularity as well as its funds before next show day comes round. .