Central Otago’s A&P show circuit is proving resilient in a pandemic.

Last year, Covid-19 appeared on our shores, stripping events of all types from calendars, including some of the nation’s A&P shows.

As the first of many shows plan a comeback this month, reporter Alexia Johnston finds out what it has taken to plan ahead in a Covid-19 environment.

Covid-19 was a show-stopper.

There have been numerous A&P shows across the nation cancelled as a result of the

None of those cancellations were in Central Otago or Wanaka, but push any of those dates out by a couple of weeks last year and it would have been a different story.

This year, show organisers are following new protocols to help keep busy committees one step ahead.

Their routine of staging show grounds with Portaloos, trade stalls and showjumping rings,  now includes the addition of QR scanning stations and hand sanitiser dispensers.

Extra details have also been added to health and safety documents.

Among those working behind the scenes ahead of the Maniototo A&P Show is secretary Janine Smith.

She is still feeling ‘‘very fortunate’’ that the region’s shows ‘‘snuck in’’ before last year’s lockdown.

‘‘Our timing [was] extremely lucky.

“We’ve had a show, we’ve been through lockdown and we’re going to have another show.’’

One of the main risks planning a show during a pandemic was in relation to the sponsorship, but work had been done to help protect that as much as possible, she said.

In some cases orders have been delayed and 2021 will not appear on the Maniototo A&P  Show’s ribbons, which would mean they could be used in any year.

There will be eight QR stations at the show this year, complete with hand sanitiser, which everyone will be encouraged to use.

‘‘All we ask is [people] scan in so if there is anything, it will make it easy and quick for tracing.’’

She encouraged people to turn their bluetooth on.

Central Otago A&P Show secretary Jennifer Huddleston was also among those preparing for the return of show festivities.

She said the committee forged ahead with its plans for its 124th show and ‘‘hoped for the best’’.

It had put a range of processes in place, including a delay to entries opening.

‘‘Normally, we open [entries] on December 1st, but we didn’t open until the first week of January.’’

Other than that, the committee was now on track to hosting its popular show as usual.

‘‘Fingers crossed,’’ she said.

‘‘Let’s just run a show like we normally run.’’

Anyone who did not feel well on the day was asked to stay home.

Mt Benger Show secretary Dinah Wales encouraged people to get out and enjoy what the district’s many shows had to offer.

‘‘We are one of the fortunate countries in the world that are allowed to do these kinds of things,’’ she said.

‘‘Make the most of it while you can and go to your local A&P show.’’

Mrs Wales said the entry fee to this year’s Mt Benger show had not altered, but the committee had spent about three times as much as it usually would on entertainment.

The aim was to ensure there was plenty for people to enjoy, but without adding extra cost at the gate.

Each show is months in the planning — an entire year in many cases.

Wanaka A&P Show event manager Jane Stalker said when one show wrapped up, planning for the next one started.

This time round, like all other shows, extra safety measures will be in place, including QR codes throughout.

Exhibitors are also encouraged to have their own QR codes to add an extra level of protection.

‘‘If you are at an event, you want to make sure you’ve done the best you can for the community [by scanning],’’ she said.

Personal protection equipment will also be available to people working at the show, particularly those handling money.

‘‘Other than that, we are going ahead and it’s business as usual.’’


A&P show calendar
Central Otago A&P Show, Omakau Domain, February 13.
Maniototo A&P Show, Maniototo Park Stadium, Ranfurly, February 17.
Mt Benger A&P Show, Roxburgh Racecourse, February 20.
Wanaka A&P Show, Wanaka Show Grounds, March 12-13.