The Shire of St Arnaud was located in the Wimmera region of north-western Victoria by the Richardson River, 10km south of Lake Buloke. The Shire's development centred on the Banyenong Run of brothers James, William and John Donald, who settled in 1844.
During the following decades agriculture expanded in the region. In 1872 a committee of squatters and townspeople decided to form a pastoral and agricultural society. The St. Arnaud Pastoral and Agricultural Society was one of many agricultural societies that worked to improve farming practices and provide support to farmers during the nineteenth century. Their activities typically included annual shows at which prizes were awarded for produce and handcrafts, and ploughing matches.
The first show of the St Arnaud Pastoral and Agricultural Society was held on 15 August 1872. In spite of wet weather, about 2,000 people attended. Entries were mainly from squatters and farmers.
By 1878 many farmers were taking prizes in the horse section. Prize-winning merinos were still the domain of the squatters, although the farmers were doing well in other sheep sections. In 1880 a series of trial prize medals were produced by the Society (NU 20913 - 20916).
Regular exhibitors in early St Arnaud shows were Messrs T. & J. Guthrie, their Rivan Avon estate possessing some of the oldest merino studs in Victoria. In the 1880s a category was created for farmers with less than 1,000 sheep. Displays of implements and new farm machinery were always of great interest.
In 1888 a Grand National show took place in St Arnaud. It ran for two days. The grand parade took place before the Governor, Sir Henry Loch.
Palmer, Yvonne S. (1955). Track of the Years: the Story of St Arnaud.
Blake, L. (1977). Place Names of Victoria.
Municipal Association of Victoria website http://www.mav.asn.au/
Register of the National Estate website http://www.ahc.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=17257
Fairfax Walkabout Australia Travel Guide website http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/VICDonald.shtml
Maroske, I.O. & Kirk, L. (1997). Shire of Donald 1897-1995: A Municipal History. Buloke Shire Council.