The Berwick Show Society has a long and proud association with agricultural competition in Victoria, tracing its history back through the Mornington Farmers Society to the founding body in Victoria, the Port Phillip Farmers Society which was established in 1848.
Port Phillip Farmer’s Society
The organisation, which is universally accepted as the forebear of the current agricultural movement, was formed in 1848. It was originally formed as the Moonee Ponds Farmers’ Society but changed its name to the Port Phillip Farmers’ Society in the same year as it was formed, namely 1848.
In the mid 1850’s the Port Phillip Farmer’s Society formed a number of branches to service particular regions. Amongst these were two groups representing Mornington, Bacchus Marsh and Gisborne.
The Mornington Farmers’ Society
The founding of the Mornington Farmers’ Society in 1856 was a major step in recognising Cranbourne as an important agricultural centre. The Society owned its own market house and shows were held regularly.
By 1860, it was felt that the Society had been responsible for the improvement in the stock of the district. A second show ground was acquired at Berwick and the shows were held alternatively at Cranbourne and Berwick.
In the late eighties, it was decided to have permanent grounds for the Mornington Farmers Society, and land was obtained from Sir W.J. Clarke of Narre Warren where the first show was held in March 1891. Three years later it moved to Buchanan Park Berwick.
The Mornington Farmers’ Society held its Jubilee Show at Berwick on 15 November 1906. The Diamond Jubilee was held 10 years later and was overshadowed by the Great War and the absence of many of the younger generation.
At the Annual General Meeting held on 25th July 1918, the Mornington Farmers’ Society changed its name to the Berwick and District Agricultural Society.
Berwick and District Agricultural & Horticultural Society Inc
The Berwick Show Society got off to a very rocky start. The Annual Report of 14th July 1919 records that “Owing to the influenza epidemic the annual show, which was fixed to take place in March last, was abandoned”.
As Melbourne grew The Berwick Show became a very important community event within the district with special trains running from Dandenong.
In 1935 the visiting Royal H.R.H The Duke of Gloucester accepted Honorary Life Membership of the Society.
History shows that inclement weather was a major issue, particularly during the 1950’s when the shows were washed out continually. Consequently it was decided to move the show from the Spring to Autumn.
It was also during this period that the decision was made to make application to the Govt to use the area known as the Pound Paddock in Berwick (now known as “Akoonah Park”) for use as a Showground and Recreation area. In 1963 the show moved to the new location, where it remains today.
The Berwick Show of today is very different to that conducted 170 years ago. Notwithstanding we are very proud of the fact that our agricultural and horticultural exhibits remain a significant component of our Show. Our cattle exhibit is one of the largest outside the Royal Melbourne and we have significant Horse, Sheep, Alpaca, Goat, and Poultry Exhibits.
Our Saturday night carnival continues to be a highly successful and popular component of our Show. A major success factor being the very good working relationship we have with the Victorian Showmen’s Guild. Through their co-operation we are able conduct a well organised and safe event.
One thing that remains constant is the contribution made by the volunteers who make up the Show Society. Without their dedication and hard work there would be no Show.
- Ensure the long term viability of the Society
- Provide the local community with a well organised and safe event that enables it to come together in a carnival atmosphere
- Maintain cost effectiveness to ensure that the Show can pay for itself, and any monetary excess is reinvested for future Shows
- Act responsibly, keep up to date and implement local/state/federal govt laws eg OH&S, where and when required
- Provide an opportunity for people in the local community to be involved in a volunteer organisation that develops and enhances their skills and experience in a friendly environment
- Assist Community Groups e.g. Scouts, Rotary, Schools, Churches, CFA by giving them an opportunity to be involved in, and promote themselves
- Assist local businesses by giving them an opportunity to both promote themselves and conduct business at the Show
- Promote the Agricultural and Horticultural Industries within the district
- Educate the community regarding the rural history and heritage of the area
- Enhance the lives of the community, children in particular who may have never seen a farm animal
- For the Society members to have fun
- Work closely with the City of Casey to ensure that the operation of the Show meets all local and state govt requirements, and that we maximise the promotion of this event which is the largest 2 day event within the City of Casey
How do we:
- Attract new and younger people to the Society thereby ensuring medium term viability of the Society
- Get the right balance between traditional exhibits and entertainment
- Better meet the needs of the local businesses in the district
- Manage costs in a responsible manner to ensure that admission prices are kept within the reach of the general public
- Maintain the relevance of the Show within an urban environment
- Maintain the traditional agricultural aspects of the Show
- Recruit and retain people with the necessary knowledge and skills to run the Show
- Organise and conduct the Show within an increasing regulative environment at all levels of Govt.