Thanks to D. Avery for this prompt. When she suggested it we had just had our public holiday for our local show. I said at the time that we should stop having a public holiday when the show was on because these days, so few people go. It is important to the country folk but to the townies it no longer has a lot of significance. Roger disagreed. Although not an Aussie by birth he could still see the importance of showcasing all things agricultural – after all Australia’s wealth was founded on a sheep’s back.
It made me wonder – do all geographical locations have agricultural shows, country fairs that feature produce from the country? If so, are they similar or different. Are they all similar or different? For example something that happens in England that has never happened here (in my time anyway) is the winning of goldfish. I’d love it if someone could fill us in on that occurrence which I know happened in the UK.
Please join in giving your location at the time of your memory and your generation. An explanation of the generations and the purpose of the prompts along with conditions for joining in can be seen at the Times Past Page. Join in either in the comments or by creating your own post and linking. Looking forward to your memories.
Baby Boomer Rural Australia
I grew up in a small country town of 800 people and the show was one of the main social events of the year. Everyone in the town went. There was a flurry of activity for a few months (probably longer) as people prepared their prize winning recipes, knitted their best stitches and made lacework and embroidery that was intricate and perfect.
On the day of the show we would dress in our best clothes and try and get there as early as possible. There were row after row of pavillions each housing a different display. One of the most exciting for us kids was the show bag pavillion. In those days showbags were worth getting but we were only allowed one each so the decision was a tough one.
All the other pavillions held displays and items that had been judged. My favourite were the chickens and the displays of fruit and vegetables. The needlework and craft displays didn’t interest me much as a child although the cake decorating was something to be seen.
Apart from the pavillions there were events such as the wood chopping which were normally held away from the main ring which was kept for the Grand Parade, horse events and other animal events. One year we had a motor cycle display. We looked at all these places before we were taken down side show alley. In those days side show alley was made up of oddities such as the bearded lady and siamese twins, as well as testing your skill shooting ducks, bowling coconuts and hitting a hammer to make the chair drop the person sitting in it in the water. There was also the obligatory ferris wheel and some other more frightening rides that children these days would turn their noses up at.
My Mum was horrified that we thought our show was something special. As far as she was concerned it was a hick event. She determined that we would see the Royal Easter Show to know what a real show was all about. In 1967, she drove us to Sydney. My Dad couldn’t come because as a minister Easter was a time he had to be on hand for services.
Mum hated every minute of it but she felt she had done her parental duty. To us kids it was much the same as our show at home only grand. By that I mean it was huge. It was so big it was impossible to visit all the pavillions or see many of the events. It has always given me a smile that Mum did this because in 1968 we moved to Sydney and Dad took us to every show until I left school. I loved going with him as he loved it as much as I did. Mum didn’t attend another show until we moved here to Noosa and we went to the show at Pomona. She is sitting in front of her prize winning entry (the red embroidery with red ribbon).
Horse events at Pomona.
The Grand parade at Pomona. Sadly Pomona show is dying. There were so few people there.
A different story in Gloucester though. My godson (on the horse at the top) comes from a farm and horses are an important part of life. Winning events at these country shows is essential to gain the points to qualify to compete at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.
Did you go to shows as a child or in later life? I’m looking forward to reading you memories…….
From the minute D. suggested this as a topic I have not been able to get the song Meet me in St Louis out of my head. It made a huge impact on me as it was probably one of the first films I watched. I’ve included the sound track.