History Articles / The Big Blackwood Show

Picture yourself at the Show and you’re trying to decide what to see first. Will you head to the Plants, the Cookery, Art or any of the other sections with a total of 267 classes for entries? Not the Royal Adelaide Show, but the Blackwood Floral and Industrial Exhibition which was once again to be held over one week in the Boys Club Hall in Blackwood on Coromandel Parade in 1919.

According to the Regulations and Prize Schedule of 1919, entries were mainly open to residents of the show districts of Blackwood, Belair, Coromandel Valley, Cherry Gardens, Clarendon, Darlington, Happy Valley, Reynella and Upper Sturt. Other sections in 1919 included Cut flowers, Vegetable and Fruit, Household Stove Cookery (“Invalid’s tray, the most daintily got up luncheon”) Needlework, Fine and Applied Art, Miscellaneous (including Photography), School Work and Sewing.

Blackwood was becoming notable judging by this excerpt from The Blackwood Magazine in February 1914 “The local telephone exchange was opened for continuous service on Tuesday January 13th.  It is believed in some quarters that Blackwood will now take her rightful place among the great cities of the world”.   At this time the population of Blackwood was approximately 1,000.

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"Val Bean, a Pageant Queen of 1950s.  Car sign reads "Hambly Clark Hunting Specialist"  (photo courtesy of Margaret Burton Collection)

From an advertisement in the Blackwood Magazine in Sept 1914, we can see that the Floral and Industrial Exhibition was held in the Blackwood Club Hall (or Boys Club) and lasted for one week from Sat to Sat in early October, but the Flower Show itself was held several weeks later at the end of October. Despite the particularly poor growing conditions of a record-breaking drought, the quality was good. The attractive exhibits included those from Professor Stirling of Mount Lofty and Mr F H Snow of Aldgate. Proceeds were in aid of Patriotic Funds.

The creation of the Boys Club Hall had been due to the enthusiastic and dedicated help of the whole community after Alexander George Downer of Belair had generously donated the

land in 1904. When it became ramshackle in the late 1940’s the Floral Fairs became a means of raising funds to build the new Memorial Hall on Coromandel Parade. From 1948, these were held on the Blackwood Sports Ground (now Hewett Oval) which was transformed with stalls, barriers and flags.

The whole community was now behind the drive to build the Memorial Hall. The Floral Fair of 1953 would have all manner of stalls. Apart from the Floral Competitions and Flower Stall, there would be sideshows, a Kindergarten Corner (Creche) and Miscellaneous Stall (jumble) amongst others. There would also be a procession and races both for children and adults. Decorated Bikes, Prams and other children’s vehicles were popular events and Queen competitions in 3 categories were part of the fundraising, namely Queen of Charity, Queen of Commerce and Queen of Sport, the winner being the one who raised the most money. Mr Peter Nelson and his soon to be bride Miss Marjorie Jackson were amongst the VIP guests. During the afternoon a procession of members of the horse riding clubs, hay carts, clowns and the 4th Military District Band would leave the Post office in Blackwood for the sports ground.

 

The completion of the hall finally came to fruition in 1957 - a testament to the strong community commitment and spirit that we hope continues into the future.

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