Initiated in 1851, The Royal Show at Pietermaritzburg's Royal Agricultural Showgrounds was already growing rapidly before the main Witwatersrand trunk line was being built and before electricity and transistor radios appeared in homes throughout the South Africa. Cattle, sheep, horses and pigs at that time were walked from the Railway Station at the top end of Church Street, down Commercial Road to the Showgrounds straddling the Dorpspruit River on the then city outskirts.
Throughout its history, 'The Royal' has had the privilege of hosting merchants and businessmen who recognised the benefits of interacting with one another, the agricultural sector and the general public.
Today the Royal Show is the largest mixed exhibition incorporating a fully-fledged agricultural component on the continent of Africa. Not only does this include the exposition of some of the country's finest livestock and agricultural equipment but also a range of ancillary activities and displays covering the industrial, commercial and service sectors within the province.
Included in the mix is the 2100 sqm Food Hall, where exhibits and demonstrations showcase the entire food chain; from farm field to dining table.
Similarly, the recently refurbished - century old - Crafts and Home Industries Hall affords young and old with eclectic displays and inter-active demonstrations of extraordinary talent. These include embroidery, needlework, tapestries, knitting, painting, photography, beading and wood sculpting. Whilst the emphasis is focused on the non-commercial competitive sections; the 'purist' component is today complemented in the adjacent hall with a mix of displays of modern crafts, many of which are available to purchase.
Other dedicated halls include those relating to business, home improvements and safety and security, together with a further 4000 sqm under cover devoted to a broad mix of general displays.
Open site stands likewise cater for a mix of exhibits ranging from swimming pools and building requisites through to a vast array of tractors, agricultural implements and the latest motor vehicles and trucks. Recently 'The Royal' has seen a significant increase in the presence of materials handling and construction equipment all indicating that 'The Royal' affords incredible value from a corporate marketing and branding perspective in respect of capital items of note.
Full of contrasts, 'The Royal', with its unique ambience abutting the City and the Dorpspruit stream still running through its centre, is all about old friends, new introductions, long established traditions and stimulating fresh ideas.