It's Royal Easter Show time in Sydney. One of the last great Agricultural shows. I guess something like the Young Farmers on speed or an imitation version of US State Fairs. Agriculturally, it's wonderful. Beautiful produce displays, animal enclosures sporting every domesticated creature from Alpacas to literally Flying Pigs, Cows and horses etc. Smelly poultry, arts and crafts, cake decorating, painting and sculpture, knitwear and handicrafts, wine and cheese.
I never had any great burn to go to the "Show" but pushed by children who were keen to enjoy the crowds, we've been for the past few years on and off. Now as adults, I am liberated from the experience. The good? Introducing city kids to life in the country and getting close up and personal with the farming ethic. It's possible to poke a piglet, goad a goat, chase a chicken and follow the big animal footprints on the concrete which mark a path amongst the animal exhibits. You can attend everything from cross-stitch and flower pruning demonstrations to cows being milked and lambs being delivered, chicks hatching and cows being milked. Which is a good thing for kids who think that milk comes from a plastic container in a supermarket. Believe me . . most kids do!
It's become a little more commercialised over the years with manufacturers spruiking non agricultural products but it's essence remains bringing the country to the city and for the exhibitors an incredible source of pride if you win that blue ribbon for your boiled fruit cake . . yes folks, Australians make boiled fruit cake. There are more chambray shirts, Akubra hats and moleskin pants than you can poke a stick at . . the uniform that marks the country folk from those in the burbs.
At night, if you can get a seat in the grandstand, there's polo, precision driving, some novelty act, usually an unbelievably unemployable clown and a donkey that manage to get this one gig a year and something exciting like a high wire act, Rocket Man or a robot that breathes fire (told you, it's a class act) - I believe it's freestyle motocross this year. It closes with 20 minutes of pretty damn good fireworks.
The downside . . Sideshow alley and it's array of over-priced dodgy rides and showbags and an inundation of young teens in silly hats and wigs. It's alcohol controlled so no shenanigins although I can always smell weed, perhaps it's luscerne hay?
Then there are showbags. Once upon a time, showbags were various manufacturers' way of providing samples to the public. They were free. You could browse around an enormous hall of stalls and grab a free showbag with chocolate, toys, skin care, garden products for nicks, nada, nothin'. These days, they range between $5 and $20 are largely full of shit and it's the most crowded exhibition in the showground as people clamour to get their little plastic bag full of . . .well . . rubbish. My kids would be given $10 and ushered into the seething crowd, only to look at every damn bag in this massive steaming hot hall to emerge with the biggest bag full of revolting sticky lollies. There were times when the gluck had to be removed with something akin to paint stripper from DrummerBoy's face. Show bags always contained something
to help the kids spew in the car on the way home.
Other downsides . . exasperated parents pushing over tired toddlers in the pouring rain or stinking heat (Easter is always extreme), screechy teenage girls with stupid things on their heads or in their hair, the food . . dagwood dog anyone? Yuk. I was the tight arse parent that packed a rucksack with sandwiches and juice and the only luxury maybe an ice cream or a tub of chips later in the evening. After last 2006's Good Friday effort at the show where 2 million people attended on a 30C day, I called it quits. Never again! Not never, no how! I'm done with the mingled essence of poo, frying fat and sticky lollies!
But it is an institution and at $30 a head per adult, it isn't cheap. After 16 years of dragging my lazy arse through the muck and the mire, I'm quite happy to watch it reported on telly but if you have littlies who aren't afraid of fireworks, (I spent many a year cuddling my niece or nephew who were terrified of the things), it's a good day and night out and I think fondly remembered by the younglings whilst abhorred by the parents!
There, just a tastelet. . . time for Monopoly!