The final countdown - The Royal Hobart Show

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ROYAL Hobart Show exhibitors are working into the night preparing for tomorrow's 9am deadline.

That's when the gates open and the action really begins in the 190th anniversary edition of the city's big festival of agriculture.

Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania chief executive Scott Gadd said the build-up to the four public days was intense, with 27 separate committees involved. "But it's still easier than government," said the former senior bureaucrat.

Roly Calvert said he had barely slept in the past 24 hours as he co-ordinated the arrival, feeding and display of baby farm animals at the popular Mercury Animal Nursery.

Exhibitors varied from the Australian Republican Movement to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, which was collaborating with its royal counterpart, the Royal Hobart Show, in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Another theme was a celebration of the Australian Year of the Farmer, with exhibits of local produce and historic farm machinery, including some of the earliest rotary hoes and first mass-produced tractors from the 1930s, all Aussie-made and exported around the world. A new attraction was the Animal Wranglers from Victoria, who were preparing to put on three shows a day with their docile performing animals, including big bulls, goats, horses and mules, some of whom had been rescued from a slaughterhouse fate.

Their act includes a horse who tucks herself in under a blanket and 14-year-old Tim Tam the mule, whose party trick is to sit at a table and eat muesli.

The Animal Wranglers, Lachie Cossor and Barry Chambers (Bazza the clown), had come a long way with their unlikely troupe.

"We did 40 gigs in four states over four weeks, from Longreach in Queensland to the Burnie Show early this month," Cossor said.

He said the animals coped very well. "They wander around together like a mob of sheep.

"We perform at horse shows, rodeos, corporate events, anything. We are available for bar mitzvahs."

The Royal Hobart Show is the oldest agricultural show in the country, although it has not been held every year. It began in 1822 on the grass in front of what is now Parliament House. It moved to its present home in 1904.

For a bumper range of discount show coupons, buy today's Mercury


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