An agricultural show is a public event exhibiting the equipment, animals, sports and recreation associated with agriculture and animal husbandry. The largest comprise a livestock show (a judged event or display in which breeding stock is exhibited), a trade fair, competitions, and entertainment. The work and practices of farmers, animal fanciers, cowboys and zoologists may be displayed. The terms agricultural show and livestock show are synonymous with the North American terms county fair and state fair.
Agricultural shows are an important part of cultural life in small country towns, and a popular event in larger towns and cities. Shows range from small events in small country towns usually lasting two days, through medium-sized events of three days, to large shows, which may run for up to two weeks and combine elements of an amusement park with those of an agricultural show. Although in many countries agriculture shows are increasingly under financial pressure, many towns or areas have a Show Society and in some areas, several towns and villages in the area all have an annual show. Larger shows often include live entertainment and fireworks in the main arena.
Since the 19th century, agricultural shows have provided local people with an opportunity to celebrate achievements and enjoy a break from day-to-day routine. With a combination of serious competition and light entertainment, annual shows acknowledged and rewarded the hard work and skill of primary producers and provided a venue for rural families to socialise. City shows also provide city people with an opportunity to engage directly with rural life and food production.
Agriculture shows are often enlivened with competitive events, including sheaf tossing, show jumping food competitions and tent pegging. Demolition Derbys and rodeos are popular in the US and campdrafting and wood chopping are often held in Australia.
Studs are generally available for a fee.
A livestock show is an event where livestock are exhibited and judged on certain phenotypical breed traits as specified by their respective breed standard. Species of livestock that may be shown include pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, horses, llamas and alpacas. Poultry such as chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and pigeons are also shown competitively. There are also competitive shows for dogs, sheepdogs and cats.
Prize-winners at agricultural shows are generally awarded inscribed medals, cups, rosettes or ribbons. The National Museum of Australia has a rare collection of medals documenting the history of agricultural shows and rural industries across Australia. The 111 medals range in date from the mid-19th to the early 20th century and many are associated with significant individuals and organizations.
Related to a show is the "field day", with elements of a trade show for machinery, equipment and skills required for broadacre farming. Field days typically do not involve livestock, showbags or sideshows, but may include events such as ploughing competitions not usually associated with shows due to the larger space required. In some communities in northern England Field Days (or Club Days) have lost their agricultural character and have become community celebrations.
The events are good sources of agricultural information, as organizers can arrange for guest speakers to talk on a range of topics, such as the talk on the yellow-flowering alfalfa at the South Dakota field day. Pecan growers were given a talk on insect control by an entomologist at a recent field day at LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Research/Extension Station in Shreveport, La.
A Landcare survey conducted in 1992/93 revealed that field days in Australia have a high value among local farmers. New Zealand's National Agricultural Fieldays is held annually in June at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, New Zealand, and attracts 1,000 exhibitors and over 115,000 visitors through its gates. Smaller shows, held annually in New Zealand's towns and communities, are generally called agricultural and pastoral shows (A&P shows).
List of shows
- Patrick Robertson (2011). Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time. Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
- Australian Screen: Agricultural shows
- David Allen agricultural medals, National Museum of Australia
- Ekarius, Carol (2008). Storey's Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep, Goats, Cattle and Pigs. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60342-036-5.
- Ekarius, Carol (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58017-667-5.
- David Allen collection agricultural medals purchased by the National Museum - images and details
- "Yellow-flowering alfalfa topic of June 26 field day". High Plains Midwest Ag Journal. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Van Osdell, Mary Ann. "Pecan field day provides latest information". Delta Farm Press. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Conacher, Arthur; Conacher, Jeanette (1995). Rural Land Degradation in Australia. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press Australia. p. 138. ISBN 0-19-553436-0.
- Fieldays Retrieved on 29 November 2008
- "Greatest show on turf opens gates". BBC News. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008.