Agricultural and pastoral shows have been an iconic institution reaching across many generations, Ashburton A&P Association stalwarts Tim and Beth Lovett say.
The couple have a long-standing association with the Ashburton show spanning back to their childhood days where attendance was encouraged by their respective parents and
Beth, 55, is a member of the Ashburton A&P Association but, alongside show stalwart Andrew Brown, has been heavily involved in the grain and seed section for many years.
Tim, 58, after getting involved as an exhibitor in the winter feed competition in the
early 1990s, did stints on general committee, worked the ranks to president in 2008 and 2009, and is grounds manager responsible for ground crew maintaining the showgrounds.
He took over from Brian Leadley and has seen three groundsmen in the role since he started nearly 20 years ago. They were Richard Sharp, the late-Shayne Adams, and most recently new groundsman, Doug McMillan, a landscaper.
The Lovetts eldest son Matt is also on the general committee, although younger son Sam has not yet been roped in to the association.
A&P shows are about meeting up with neighbours and mates, having time off-farm, and enjoying a hot dog, homemade bacon and egg pies, or an ice cream at the
show, Tim said.
Beth remembers being given 10 cents by her Nana to buy treats.
Covid has affected the Ashburton A&P Show for the second year in a row. Although
some competitions will go ahead, it has involved a bit of compromise, and a lot of
planning to ensure there is space between sections – and people in bubbles.
Shearing, dog trials, alpacas, wool classes, home industries, equestrian, showjumping will
each run but behind closed doors with no trade sites, market stalls, food vendors or
the general public.
Beth got involved with the association after taking over the long-standing membership from her late-father David Nelmes, of Fairton, after he passed in the mid-1980s. He
was a long-standing horse committee member.
Tim’s first memorable encounter with Beth’s father was as a 14-year-old being given the most improved rider recognition after a clean round on his pony Mickey.
The round was a marked improvement on the year earlier when Mr Nelmes had witnessed Tim being projected off his pony on top of a jump, which broke as a result.
It’s a memory which still amuses Tim.
The Lovetts both grew up in arable country, near Fairton, but are now dairy farmers.
They took over the nearly 400-hectare Brackleigh Farm, owned by Tim’s parents, Stuart
and the late-Nola, on Fairfield Road, at Newlands. But made the conversion to dairy in 2008.
Tim still gets a bit of ribbing from his siblings Andrea, Richard, and Greg (of Lovett Family Farms at Wakanui), who are used to the family farm being a sheep and crop
Tim and Beth, whose two adult sons work off-farm, made the decision to convert after
travelling to Michigan, in the mid-western United States in 2007.
Tim had travelled extensively around the world over the years, and was returning to visit Canadian farms being run by younger generations.
It was a bit of an eye-opener to what was possible so, with succession in mind, changes
were made on the return home.
Ten days later the wheels were in motion to convert the farm.
They now supply Fonterra, and are milking 1100-Kiwi-cross cows in a 70 bail rotary shed.
There are also a few White Galloways, Murray Greys and Belgian Blues thrown in the mix.
It has been the perfect lifestyle choice for the Lovetts, and they have no regrets.
They are more efficient with their water use, changing from roto rainer to pivot irrigation.
They are hooked into the BCI irrigation scheme as well as underground water, Tim said.
The conversion to dairy has given them a succession plan and brought in others working
through the ranks of the dairy industry system.
With contract milkers in place it has also freed up at least six weeks a year for the Lovetts to travel the world.
They have travelled to the United States, Africa, Vietnam and slept rough across
thousands of kilometres.
It was pup tents during 8500km travel in Africa, and a tiny campervan travelling 12,000km from Seattle to Anchorage.
They have also seen first-hand how respected farmers from New Zealand are considered by people overseas.
When the country reopens they have their hearts set on travelling the ‘Stans of Central
Asia; Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan. And are also keen for a return to having traditional A&P shows for the whole family to attend.
It’s just a matter of time.