Day 27: Roxburgh

Sat 18 February 2017

Mt Benger A&P show

I have decided to stay in Roxburgh for another night rather than walk to Alexandra. It is the local A&P show today – I haven’t been to an A&P show since I was a teenager plus todays show is the regional final for the FMG Young Farmer award. I have already met so many wonderful people in just one day that I can’t help but feel that today will be memorable and unmissable. Barbara will be picking me up at 1030 so I have some time to kill in the morning. My first stop is at the Manhattan restaurant for a coffee. I had a delicious dinner there last night and this morning I have a wee but clever plan in mind. It is only 0900 and the restaurant doesn’t open until 1000 but Jo spots me outside and opens the door anyway. How’s that for service New Zealand? I get a coffee and unfortunately for the cafe have set off a chain of events as trail bike riders see the door is open – so begins an extra hour of morning coffee making… oops sorry. I set up my plan with the owner and not long afterwards Barbara arrives at the Commercial to take me to the A&P showgrounds, which are approx 6km out of Roxburgh. Barbara is a journalist and is covering the show for The Central App – this being a great smart phone app for everything Central Otago. She will write a piece on the show including the FMG Young Farmers and even a bit about little ole me. Barbara and I hit it off immediately and as she knows everyone it is a wonderful opportunity to meet members of the community. The first stop had to be the St John events team of Geoff and Liz who would be here all day for any emergencies or incidents. Not surprisingly the ambulance was facing the equestrian arena like yesterday and there were a few tumbles during the day unfortunately. We moved onto the area where the young farmers were deep in competition. There were different stations at which the contestants had challenges to complete, always against the clock. At each station was a sign so the layman could read what they had to do. Family and supporters were following each contestant and there was a lot of encouragement. The FMG staff were also friendly and engaging too. Barbara and I wandered along to the Agri Kids and Teen Ag competition area. Teams of youth and teenagers from different regional schools had gathered and would be competing to go through to the next round of competition (in Timaru? I can’t remember). Te Radar was MC for the FMG Young Farmer award so he was also covering this event too. Him and I had a great quick chat as we both went to boarding school together before he had to turn his attention to the kids who were beside themselves wanting to get selfies and pictures with Te Radar. Like all great MC’s he charmed his way through the competition and was hilariously entertaining.

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There was still plenty to see. As Barbara and I were walking back past the MC she stopped and introduced me to him (he was a Mark) and the next thing I know I am bring interviewed across the show grounds about my walk. Very cool. I spoke about what I was doing, fund-raising for St John and the weather of course. The MC moved onto the grand parade of horses and we went to get some lunch then visited the pavilion to see the crafts, baking and vegetable competition. Barbara had scooped a first prize for her preserves. She sells a massive range of products at markets, all sourced locally therefore under the branding of Taste of the Teviot. Many others also have taken prizes including Noeline who had all three prizes for her flower arrangements.

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At the show today was a classic car collection. A superb range of vehicles all lovingly cared for by enthusiastic owners. The camaraderie at this end of the showgrounds was definitely more boisterous. It was time for a cool drink as the sun was beating down relentlessly. I opted for a Pimms at the tent overlooking the equestrian events. Chairs of all different kinds had been brought in for punters to sit in, an eclectic touch of difference. Later I had the good fortune to meet Stephen Jeffery who is a local councillor and the chairman of the Roxburgh Gorge & Clutha Gold Trail trust. I was pleased to have the opportunity to commend him and the trust on their excellent trails. I also got to meet the young MP for Clutha-Southland, Todd Barclay.

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As the show was wrapping up Barbara and I departed. We were talking about the history of the area on the way back into town and Barbara kindly drove me to see the monument in the park which was built by local artist Bill Clarke to commemorate 150 years of pastoral farming in the Teviot Valley. On the back of the monument, that many admirers may not realise, are the names of the families who have been in the area many for generations. We also drove to see the Teviot woolshed. It is off the beaten path as it is on private land but it is oh so spectacular even in its decay. It must have been quite a sight in its heyday when apparently there was 8,000 sheep packed in ready to be shorn. Unfortunately it burnt down in 1924 some say it was arson and in the 80’s the then owner took his bulldozer to it as it posed health and safety issues with visiting kids. Geez who needs them..

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I have had a fantastic day with Barbara, it has been like a day with an old friend.

This evening I walk down the street to the Manhattan restaurant. The owner Victoria has kindly agreed to my request to work for a donation to St John. Their family is heavily involved with St John and let’s face it, no one really likes to do dishes. Some instruction later I was on the job with Vic, Nikki, Jo, Greer and Blaine. Being a Saturday night there was an early rush on takeaway pizzas – they do mean pizzas! Then the dinner crowd arrived and the dish wash area quickly filled with crockery, cutlery and glassware. However the time flew by and before I knew it service was over and we were doing the last clean up. It was a great night and I am grateful to the Manhattan restaurant for the opportunity and their support.

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