Two heavy horses are setting out to help visitors to this weekend’s Royal A&P Show at Manfeild Park get from the main car park to the venue.
Spotting seven-year-old Peter and his stablemate Katie, 14, won’t be difficult. This friendly pair both stand extra-tall and weigh a tonne apiece, which is about right for their breeding.
Kate and Peter are Clydesdale horses and their job during show weekend is one they perform most Sundays around Foxton, hauling the Manawatu township’s famous tram under guidance from expert ‘conductors’ Jim White and his 14-year-old protégé, Jayden Moore.
The team has been brought to the show to act as a novelty ferry ride for the foot-weary between the car park set up on the Manfeild race circuit, accessed from Kawakawa Road off the public entrance marked ‘E5’, and the Showground entry point at the circuit’s pit lane entrance.
That route will in a way make Peter and Kate ‘racehorses’ – they’ll be stepping out around the short club section of the famous Manfeild race circuit. A new kind of horsepower for the home of high-octane excitement will likely not set any new lap times, but might establish an efficiency record – these mighty equine engines are fuelled on the trot by the occasion piece of fruit, Mr White says.
In return, they provide the muscle required to pull a vehicle that, even though a replica of an 1880s original (and so utilising some lightweight materials), nonetheless weighs a tonne when empty and twice that when every seat is filled.
The tram team has worked other venues around the district, but Manfeild’s Royal A and P Show New Zealand will be a particularly high-profile first. “We’re wondering if we might see a Royal personage,” Mr White quipped.
Host consortium chairman Murray Meads says it’s fantastic to have such a well-known example of ‘living’ Manawatu memorabilia actively involved with the show.
“The Foxton Tram has been a marvellous draw card on its home ground and it is brilliant that the team is going to be a part of this weekend’s activities.”
The Show promises to be a family fun-centred morning to late evening three day event that is all about tradition – with the very best that country New Zealand has to offer – and good times, with a Grand Parade, numerous competitions (even a race for Jack Russells), a carnival, on-stage performances by top musical acts, a visit from Father Christmas and the finishing finale of a fireworks display.
‘The Royal’ as it is colloquially known, continues to reflect and honour its rural roots by being ‘the show’ for the country’s top livestock breeders: Alpacas to equestrian classes to beef and dairy cattle, pigs and everything in between are in attendance, vying for a vaunted best-of-breed acknowledgement.
After 5pm, the show changes flavour, pace and tune. Saturday night and Sunday night is party time with specific entertainment packages for each evening: Titanium and the Topp Twins on Saturday night and The Warratahs on Sunday night, plus a lot of local performers as well.
The show will encompass the entire 87-hectare Manfeild Park groundscape along with some neighbouring Manawatu District Council land.
Mr Meads says the ambition is the make every minute a memorable moment, in part to reinforce that it’s an event that is something a lot more special than the regional A&P shows that North Island crowds are more accustomed to.