The predecessor of the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, the Agricultural Society of New South Wales, was established in 1822 by a group of Sydney's leading citizens. They aimed to improve the quality of Australia's primary production by means of contests and competitions. Officers were elected and 11 days later the Society held its first meeting at Walker's Inn, Parramatta. The Society staged its first show in Parramatta in 1823.
In 1836 the Society lapsed, but it was reformed in 1857 and continued to hold its exhibitions at Parramatta until 1868. In that year it moved to Prince Alfred Park, home of the Show from 1869 to 1881.
In 1880, when the Society was suffering severe financial difficulties, and was down to its last £71, it decided to accept a government offer and leased 16 hectares of common land at Moore Park. The first Show was held at Moore Park in 1882, and that location continued to be the home of the Society and the Sydney Royal Easter Show until January 1998.
In 1891 the Society gained permission to use the prefix 'Royal' and became known as the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales.
In August 1994 the New South Wales Government approved the relocation of the Sydney Royal Easter Show and work began on the new Homebush site. Three years later the Royal Easter Show moved to Sydney Olympic Park, where the first show was held in 1998. That year a record 1,262,339 people attended, breaking the attendance of 1.23 million set in 1947.
Today the Society is responsible for conducting Australia's largest annual event, the Royal Easter Show, as well as other agricultural competitions and activities throughout the year. The Society also manages Sydney Showground. The Society comprises 89 Councillors, 120 staff and 14, 000 Members.
The Society's mission is to 'encourage the sustainable development of agriculture by holding events and competitions that support agricultural excellence and innovation...to expand and promote our role as a key constructive influence in Australian agriculture, its development and education' and 'to manage, market and maintain the Sydney Showground effectively to ensure our sustained economic viability'.
Australian Science at Work website, University of Melbourne, http://www.austehc.unimelb.edu.au/asaw/biogs/A000157b.htm
Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales website http://www.rasnsw.com.au/home.htm.