During the year of 1875, amidst one of the worst droughts experienced, the Stanthorpe Agricultural Society was created in an effort to bring people together to generate a certain amount of enthusiasm amongst a then thriving mining community.
Since 1975, the Stanthorpe Agricultural Society has continued to hold its annual show on the fifth weekend of the calendar year without fail. This means the show can occur on either the last weekend in January or first weekend in February. As such, the Society has the enviable reputation of hosting the first Agricultural Show for the Queensland show year. An item of note is the fact that the Stanthorpe Agricultural Society is one of the oldest agricultural societies in Qld and even pre-dates the Ekka by 4 months.
Now into its second century, the Society has seen a number of presidents, supported by secretaries and treasurers successfully manage the society's responsibilities and activities, in conjunction with a wealth of volunteers, stewards and sub-committee members.
The Stanthorpe Agricultural Society's logo is loosely based on Queensland’s state badge, emblem and flag and represents the society’s history and values.
It is made up of:
A shield depicting its link to Qld’s 1976 state badge (later incorporated into Qld’s coat of arms) and ribbon.
It has a maltese cross in the centre depicting its link to Qld’s state emblem.
In the centre of the cross is a royal crown, representing the fact that in 1876 Qld was a self-governing British colony.
In each of the four arms of the cross is a symbol of Stanthorpe’s main industries being horticulture (top), sheep (left), cattle (right) and forestry (bottom).
Under the forestry symbol is a pick and shovel reminding us of Stanthorpe’s mining heritage.
The early history of the Stanthorpe Agricultural Society has been captured in the ‘Stanthorpe Agricultural Society, 1875 – 1975 Centenary Booklet’ compiled by Mrs Jean Harslett B.E.M., F.R. Hist. S.Q.
The Centenary Booklet is available free of charge from the Show Office.
Extracts from Stanthorpe Agricultural Society, 1875 - 1975 Centenary Booklet
In 1875,... The Courier Mail reported, " We perceive with pleasure the formation of the Stanthorpe Society bearing the name of the Border Agricultural , Horticultural and Mining Society. We think the addition of 'Pastoral' might have been an improvement." The name, however persisted as it was until the annual meeting in December 1878 when Mr J.W. Pillar moved that the word 'Pastoral' be substituted for 'Horticultural', and it was carried unanimously. For the next thirty-five years, until 1913, the official designation of the Society remained the same. Then Mr. A.E. Bateman, who had been secretary for the Society for two years, suggested that a less unwieldy name should be chosen. He aslo felt the present name gave no indication to other parts of the State, where the Society operated. A special meeting was called and it was unanimously decided to give th society the simple title of, "The Stanthorpe Agricultural Society", the name it still bears today...
... The first Show (held in 1876) was acclaimed a magnificent success. It was pleasing to hear from the lips of such an experienced and influential visitor as the Minister for Works, that the exhibition of vegetable productions was equal to anything he had seen in the colonies and Agriculturists from New England endorsed his remarks. The public so generously responded, that a building twice the dimensions could not have housed all the valuable exhibits. "Some had to be crowded beyond distinction and others were lost to observation under the tables. No blame to be levelled at the Society, because they have to adopt every possible means of economy."...
... In 1901, the president, Mr W.H. McQuaker and the committee, realised the grounds in use were far to small... ...the ultimate choice of the present grounds has proved one of foresight... The grandstand and pavilion was the first building erected at the new grounds...with the pavilion below and grandstand on top...
... The first Show held in these grounds was in 1905...
Our sesquicentennial (150th)
Whilst the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Stanthorpe Agricultural Society occurs in 2025, the Society will be recognising 150 years of Stanthorpe Shows at the 2026 Stanthorpe Agricultural Show.
Each subcommittee and section will be asked to incorporate this milestone event into their exhibits and displays.