Topic: Katikati's First Fair (1885)

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The first Fair in Katikati was held in 1885 on Easter Monday. This article appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 9 April 1885 (p 2).

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This Fair, which was held on Easter Monday, will long be remembered as red letter day in the annals of Katikati. Having received instructions to report the events of the day, and having engaged a seat in Mr Gledstanes' coach, who started from the Yorkshire Grey Hotel at 7 a.m. with a full load of passengers. Some sporting gentlemen had made a bet that we should not do the journey in four hours, the distance being 30 miles, and with such a heavy load behind the horses we felt somewhat dubious as to doing the distance in that time. However, when we reached our destination, it was found that we had only taken 3½ hours to accomplish the journey. The weather was simply perfect, and such as is generally prevailing in Tauranga the sky being cloudless, while a slight breeze made the air refreshing and prevented oppressiveness. Upon our arrival at the Uretara Hotel host Barney MacDonnell at once came to the coach to greet us, stating at the same time that he had never before been so crowded and upon looking around we quite concurred with his remark, for there must have been over 400 people present. Amongst the crowd we noticed friends from the Thames, Paeroa, Waihi, Te Aroha, and Waikato, who all said that, having heard so much about this first Fair, they had determined to come and have a look at it. Upon entering the paddock where the stock was exhibited for sale we noticed first some very fine cart horses, brought from the Waikato by Mr Buckland, and which were afterwards all disposed of at auction. There were also quite a number of other horses on exhibit, while cattle and sheep were likewise numerously represented. Punctually at 11 o'clock a bell rang for the purpose of calling attention to the opening of the Fair, and thereupon the President, Captain Mervyn Stewart, the Vice-President, Captain Macmillan, together with the members of the committee and others assembled on the Uretara bridge. Messrs Simms and Gilbert, the secretaries, having proclaimed silence, the President expressed himself greatly pleased with the large attendance of visitors, and declared the Fair duly opened. People then dispersed in all directions in order to inspect the various exhibits both in live stock and produce. Amongst the latter some very large onions, weighing over 2lb each, and grown in Katikati by Mr Win.Taylor, were conspicuous. Mr Hoeing showed some fine samples of chaff, carrots, and potatoes, while Mr Mulvany exhibited quantities of honey in tin and glass, got up very nicely. He informed us that he had sold one and a half tons of the article this season, and that some of his hives had produced as much as £75 worth of honey. A lot of fowls, ducks, and geese were also to be seen on the ground, and there can be no doubt that the whole of the exhibition, in all its parts, was a grand success.

At 1 o'clock the committee sat down to dinner, to which they did full justice, but left their friends and visitors to watch them with hungry looks. No reporter of the press being present, speechifying was (perhaps happily) not indulged in, and the members of the committee continued their feelings to simply congratulating themselves on the success of the undertaking, at the same time agreeing unanimously to hold their next Fair during the first week of October next.

At 2 p.m. Mr R. C. Jordan, the popular knight of the hammer, entered upon his duties, and with his customary dispatch disposed of lot after lot, knocking down the last of the animals offered for sale by half-past five.

A deputation which waited upon the committee subsequently, for the purpose of asking them to hold another Fair in October next, were informed that such a step had been decided upon, and the general opinion was expressed that the next Fair would be a still greater success, as people would have more time allowed to bring in stock for sale, which would not fail to largely increase the attendance.

The days proceedings appropriately wound up with a ball in the Waterford Hall, where dancing was kept up till the early hours of the morning, the entertainment being well patronised. We almost forgot to mention that the Fair was no exception to the general rule in the way of pugilistic exhibitions, but was enlivened by a few encounters, particulars of which we did not collect. In conclusion, it is to be hoped that, after witnessing the success of the Katikati Fair, other districts will follow suit in the same line at no very distant day.



Bay of Plenty Times (9 April 1885, p 2).

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