A piece in the Tenterfield Star calling for historic items to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the Tenterfield Show set off a chain of events that culminated in Isaac Whereat’s great-grandson Terry Behan officially opening the anniversary show on Saturday.
Isaac was responsible for the inception of the show, and Terry thought the Show Society might be interested in a page of Isaac’s memoirs – in Terry’s possession – that is dedicated to the Tenterfield Show.
“When I mentioned to (show secretary) Kim Rhodes that I’d be coming to Tenterfield anyway to do some research for an upcoming family reunion, she asked if it could coincide with the show.”
Mr Behan said this was his fourth trip to Tenterfield, and various members of the extended Whereat family are always making the pilgrimage back to the town where the family started and where Isaac left his legacy.
“In 1876 it was the vision of my great-grandfather Isaac Whereat, and his brother Edward Whereat, to form a show foundation,” he said during his opening speech.
“Edward Whereat was the town mayor in 1876 and it was he who chaired the foundation meeting which was held at the Commercial Hotel. As a result of this meeting, the Agricultural and Horticultural Society was formed and the first show was held in 1877.
“In my great-grandfather’s memoirs he described, in detail, the very first show held in 1877. It was held in a paddock at the back of the newly erected School of Arts building.
“A few pens were assembled for stock exhibits and farm produce, and a pieblad horse belonging to John Dwyer won the fist high hump, at 5ft 7in. Other prizes included best farming implement, best cattle dog, best loaf of bread, best bull and cow, best pen of fat lambs, best handmade bricks, best crochet work and best pair of lop-eared rabbits.”
The following year the show moved to its current location. The fence wasn’t built in time so the gatekeepers stood on Manners St Bridge to collect the toll.
“The Show Society went ahead in leaps and bounds and, for many years, was acknowledged as the best outside Sydney,” Mr Behan said.
“It was so well renowned that, by 1885 when the railway line was completed, special trains were run from Warwick and Glen Innes to the Tenterfield Show.”
Mr Behan concluded by saying it had been an honour and a privilege to be invited to open the 140th show.
“I am sure that original show committee members would be overjoyed that the legacy they set up 140 years ago is still in excellent hands.”