On the face of things, it is pretty hard to explain why the Royal Agricultural Show is an entertaining day out. An entire afternoon spent paying homage to this country’s agricultural roots, where’s the fun in that?
But yet, thousands of families flock to these events every year. In a technological age where endless entertainment comes at the click of a button on a tablet computer, smartphone or 3D television, the Royal Show seems to satisfy a yearning for a simpler time, when the world didn’t seem nearly as complicated or scary.
Plus, there’s scores of things to do. Happy show-goers can watch giant blokes do their worst at the woodchop, milk the cows at the livestock exhibition or pat some pedigree pups before the best-in-show competition. Those who feel inclined to can even wonder at the skill of the always-enjoyable, cut-throat cooking contest, where jams, sponges and intricately iced cakes go head to head for the coveted blue ribbon.
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But the show is not all woodchopping, cooking contests and livestock, there’s some fun to be had as well, via the ever-present array of creaky rides. Many a young child/adult has lost a stomach full of jam doughnuts on the Gravitron, intentionally crashed into the attendants at the dodgem cars and spent small fortunes on games of skill that may or may not be rigged.
And then there’s the showbags. As a kid I always thought that the genius who came up with the showbag needed to be presented with a Nobel Peace Prize — because at no other time are children allowed to indulge in such gluttony. To walk into the brightly lit showbag pavilion with a newly nagged-for $20 note as a child was like entering Shangri-La itself. At the end of the day there was nothing more satisfying than pouring the contents of the showbag bonanza onto the bed to calculate how long the accumulated lolly haul would last.
Apart from showbags, rides and agriculture, the show also always seems to have some great stuff to watch, including the fantastic nightly fireworks display, crazed antics from stunt motorbike riders and live music from some pretty decent entertainers (this year’s Brisbane Ekka featured sets from bands such as The Grates and Yves Klein Blue).
And for those who enjoy their gastronomic delights, there is no need to worry, Show cuisine is not all dim sims, potato cakes and cream-filled waffles (although there is a lot to be said for the classic Dagwood Dog). Most of the big Shows now include foodie exhibitions, where those with discerning tastebuds can taste a wide variety of excellent produce.
The details: The Melbourne Royal Show is currently running until September 28, while Perth’s Royal Show runs from September 25 to October 2. Down in Hobart, the show runs from October 20-23. Show lovers who live in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane will have to wait until next year for their Royal Show fix.