CHRISTINE KADERE AND HER CHILDREN GINA  AND DEXTER MUPFURUTSA AT AGRIC SHOW YESTERDAY (1)Tawanda Marwizi
The 105th edition of the Harare Agricultural Show comes to an end tonight with last day fireworks expected to explode, illuminating the Harare skies one more time.

As with many other things like Christmas, jaded tastes and evolving cultures have affected the show. Once upon a time families planned their year’s calendar around the dates. With men working in towns while wives and children lived in the rural areas, August was set as the holiday that would see the kids coming to town. Of course it was the time of the year when there would be little work in the fields so the show came at the right time.

The main attraction was the livestock on display. Prize bulls and other eyecatchers like boergoats pulled spectators. For children and the young at heart the Luna Park with its thriller rides was the ultimate in the year’s adrenaline fix. Times have changed but the show remains a magnet for crowds beyond the farmers and business people who take the opportunity to showcase their wares and secure contracts during the exhibition period.

Figures of actual attendances seem not to be readily available but the queues of people waiting to go in through the gates during the public days tell their own story. Obliviously such an event attracts merrymakers especially from high density suburbs surrounding the capital. Glamis Arena is a fun centre for children and this year the giant jumping castle was a favourite of the tots. There are also the horses that children can ride for a small fee for a lifetime experience that may never be repeated.

Besides playing games, children have opportunities to get exposed to a number of organisations and get information on how they operate. Mixing and mingling is one of the major activities and some even get the opportunity to find new lovers. As traditional, this year’s edition started off on Monday this week with two days dedicated to business before the gates are opened for the general public.

Organisers of the event say there has been an increase of exhibitors from last year’s event. As always the show gives enough education to the people and interested parties in several areas such as farming and home industry among others. Around the venue several companies were exhibiting different products while some made brisk business at the show by selling food and beverages.

Patrons had time to visit the Registrar General Stand where they were taken through the new processes of getting identification cards, birth certificates as well as passports. What a development! People were used to long queues at the passport offices and the process would take longer than expected. That was a golden opportunity for merry-makers to see how efficient and reliable the Registrar General’s Office has become.

But perhaps this year’s biggest attraction was the chance to see one of the tallest men in the world, Billa Hyder, who is in the country courtesy of Nash Paints. The 22-year-old man had a chance to visit several stands having kodak moments with people. “I have been to several countries but the love of Zimbabweans has been amazing,” he was quoted saying in the local media.

The new system to curb child loss on such events that was introduced by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is an eye opener to everyone. With the shadow of Flint Given Matapure who disappeared at the show in the blink of an eye in 2011, many parents have developed ambivalence towards letting their children attend the show, especially when they are under the care of young adults like elder siblings and minders.

So Red Cross came up with a system to have every child tagged with the name of the parent or guardian and their contact details at entry points for speedy reunion in cases in which parties get separated. Even the country’s leadership takes the time to visit the show:

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko was impressed by the exhibitors in the farming industry. The VP was shown processes at most companies including Gushungo Holdings and Alpha and Omega, Zimbabwe Defence Forces and The Tobacco Industry among others. “I have seen that farmers have great potential. We cannot die of hunger. We cannot die of hunger,” said VP Mphoko.

Some merry-makers who spoke to this publication said the show was a good time as it gives people current updates. Jane Simango, who resides in Mt Pleasant, said it was wonderful to glean information about many things from different fields. “Show time has always been good as it gives us enough platforms to learn about different areas. For example, cattle breeding and how some army machinery works,” she said.

One Memory Chakadzi said she had a chance to visit several stands including that of gospel musician Fungisai Zvakavapano Mashavave. “I have never met her but this event gave us the chance to meet her signing auto graphs and we bought some of her music,” she said.