Winton P & A Society – John East

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My association with the Society did not start off too well!! Around the late 1950’s or early 1960’s I got the idea that I would go along to an A.G.M. and was nominated to go on the Committee. Unlike today there was no problem with getting committee members. They wanted 25 and got 27 nominations. A ballot was held and another gentleman and myself were unsuccessful. Just after the meeting the President (Eddie Phillott) said that he was disappointed with the result and suggested that I take on a project and I would be accepted in due course.

John O’Connell, Charlie Phillott and myself took on the job of building all the steel sheep pens that were kept full for many later shows but unfortunately stand mostly unused now.

I am fairly sure that the Show started about 1954 but the exact date should be available elsewhere. I was led to believe that a few of the Committee went up to the Charters Towers area and cut the rails for the jumping events. I was also led to believe that the committee did a lot of work with building the main pavilion.

In the early years all the jumping equipment, sheep judging floor etc and indeed any materials used outside of the pavilions was stored in the main pavilion after every show and of course removed about a week prior to the next show. This entailed a lot of work. A working bee was held on the Sunday before the show to shift all the stuff out so as the ladies could start putting their exhibits in. At the conclusion of  the show the committee worked until midnight in some cases putting everything back into the main pavilion before retiring to the bar for refreshments.

About 1980, during Maurice Young’s presidency, he suggested that we build a shed to store all those items I have referred to. Obviously the shed was built by the male members of the committee and Maurice took it upon himself to build a steel wheeled trailer to store the jumping gear etc on. His reasoning was that the tyres would not go flat over the ensuing year!!

Eddie Phillott has always been recognised as the father of the Show Society. He was untiring in his efforts to get things moving.

The show went along very well until drought and problems with markets etc. forced the abandonment of the shows in 1970,1971 and 1972.

A public meeting was held in (I think late 1972) to try and form a committee. Richard Davidson took on the Presidency, I accepted the Vice Presidency and a committee was formed. I remember I took on the Chief Steward’s job in the wool pavilion even though it was probably the only section that I had never worked in. I had a lot of help from a couple of men, Eric Bryce and Keith (Tiger) Elliott) who had both helped there before. I think we had somewhere around 250 fleeces in the next show.

In 1982 Elinor accepted the nomination for President. She was the first female President although she had worked for many years( some as chief steward) in the main pavilion.

For many years the bar consisted of an open shed with troughing under rhe bar which contained heaps of ice for keeping the beer cold. The bar workers often took the risk of cutting themselves on a broken bottles while fishing stubbies out of the ice. This was before the compulsory use of cans

I have seen a vast improvement of the showgrounds over the years. Much of the credit for this must go to the Council for their assistance with help from the Work Camp. The bar and surrounding paved areas have provided a much nicer entertainment area and there is a very large improvement in the rings.

Written: March 2017