Whilst the exact date of the first running of the Dalby Picnics has been much debated, it is known that the event commenced in the early 1900s and that the Races were not run during the war years.
Picnic Race meetings are a proud tradition in rural Australia. Original race days were staged with grass fed horses that had been adjisted on local properties for three months prior to the race day. This practice was phased out in the early 1970s as the number of properties with facilities to board and feed horses decreased. As the quality of horses at country meets improved many owners also became reluctant to leave valuable stock in the paddocks for fear of injury.
Dalby’s early meetings were run over two consecutive days; horses must have started on the first day to be eligible to race on the second. The social component of the weekend included a frantic round of dinner parties, a Calcutta, dinner dance and formal ball. Despite the heavy schedule all Race Committee members were expected to attend the annual meeting held the morning following the ball in order to remain eligible for committee membership.
Many local families followed the picnic race circuit throughout the region, attending meetings at Roma, Warwick, Bell, Burrandowan and Jandowae as well as the annual Dalby event. Some of the current committee members for the Picnic Races are the third generation to have been involved with staging the Race weekend.