“Since it was founded in 1822, the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) has been an influential force in the direction and development of Australian agriculture through competitions, education and events.”
Tell anyone in Sydney that you are off to “The Easter Show” and you won’t have to explain further. This year it runs from 23 March – 3 April 2018. It’s been years since Bill and I went – until last Monday that is.
Here’s how our day unfolded. When I originally culled through all my photographs, I still had 71 and a video I wanted to share. Way too many to upload, or to view. So trust me please, this is the condensed version 🙂
Sooo much to see in the Arts & Craft Pavilion: painting, photography, doll-making, leather-work, woodwork, needlework, embroidery, knitting, cake-making, cake-decorating, sugar art, ceramics and things I have forgotten.
We skipped the Fashion & Style Pavilion and went into the Fresh Food Dome where judging for the District Exhibits Competition was underway. Two comps take place – the most creative artwork is fabulous, but it’s the produce that really counts. “Everything is judged individually; fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, oils and fibres”.
After a wander around all the various speciality foods and a quick glance at the cooking demonstration taking place in the kitchen theatre, we found the start of the animal walk.
Not every animal is there every day (any more) but of what you see there are too many breeds for me to remember them all. First pavilion was Sheep & Wool. Here’s some shots from the Angora Goats and the Merino Fleece competition.
On to the Poultry Pavilion. So many varieties – so much noise! So many cocks crowing! Off at one end of the shed the chickens were hatching. Maybe from the eggs being laid in the cages as we walked around. And now tell me – how on earth does a judge determine which bowl of eggs is the winner?
Next on the run is the Pig and Goat Pavilion. As a teenager I had friends who owned a pig farm so I already knew how HUGE these animals can grow, and there were some whoppers at the show. This little lady in the below photo looks very happy. There were several sows suckling, and I can tell you – you don’t want to be the little piglet who’s copped the bottom teat. Your brothers and sisters have no qualms about stomping all over you.
We sped through the Food Farm, at the same time as admiring that its purpose is to teach our younger peeps about where food comes from. Come to think of it, there’re some adults that may have benefited as well.
Then on to the working dairy. We were just between milkings. A few cows were contentedly waiting their turn, while a handful of others were depleted and probably waiting to return to a pen. There is something about the special gaze of a dairy cow . . .
We stumbled into the cattle ring during a bull judging competition, and by the time we left that and walked through the cattle pens we were on speed dial as we hadn’t had lunch yet.
Once upon a time, I had a job with Ricegrowers aka Sunrice, whose head office was in Leeton, and one of the most famous things in that town was Mick’s Bakery – whose handmade pies have been a consistent winner at the show. I don’t know if they still compete, as they had several food stalls at the show. We headed back to the Fresh Food Dome because they had an entire cabinet of gluten free pies and sausage rolls – which meant that both Bill and I could get our fix – and we consumed these in the Woodchop Stadium, a perennial favourite at the show.
We kind of wandered through the Home and Lifestyle Pavilion without taking much notice and then suddenly we were in the Pet Pavilion. Hundreds of birds were on display, and some dog owners were parading their hounds in the “prance” as seen at the Crufts Dog Show. No cats today. That’s one of the changes over the years 🙂 Dogs and cats on different days.
Due to our hunger, we’d skipped the equestrian section of the animal walk, and we were making our way back there when we came across the Heritage Pavilion, showcasing memorabilia from the “old show days“. Isn’t this a delightful picture?
The entrance to the horse section was just beyond, but we arrived a few minutes after it was closed off. Why? Because the animals were being assembled for the Grand Parade and would walk across to the stadium at this point.
So we scurried to the immense stadium-cum-show ring to secure ourselves a seat in the shade. Which makes for lousy photographs which is why I have resorted to a shot from Wikimedia Commons (below).
The Grand Parade is an opportunity to pay silent homage to Sydney Royal Competition winners including animals, producers, champion woodchoppers, and future community leaders in a celebration of Australian agriculture. Why silent? The four-legged participants are more used to the serene peace and quiet of life on the farm, so give them a friendly wave and hold the applause until after they have left the stadium!
We had time to kill before the start of the parade.
The animal pavilions close at 5pm, so we had to forgo the horses. We walked the outside perimeter of the stadium so we could better appreciate the vast layout of the showground. It moved here in 1998 as part of the development for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Before that it was at Moore Park from 1882 until 1997. We attended the last show there – and have the certificate to prove it 🙂
Back in the stadium we took a prime seat to watch the camp drafting which has its origins in mustering. I took a great video but it is too big to upload, and when I reduce it the vision goes all squiggly. Perhaps the riders saw things that way too.
The best campdrafters in the country compete over 6 consecutive nights, “cutting out” a beast from the mob and moving it around a course. Points are awarded for horsemanship and control over the beast while completing the course.
By this stage we had managed to steer well clear of the kid’s carnival section (rides, etc), but we did pause at the amphitheatre to watch a uni-cyclist trot his stuff. In my teen years in the late 60s/ early 70s it was common to see rock groups who would go on to be famous performing at the show. It was the era of bands getting started in backyard garages and church halls.
We headed off to see some working dogs, but had the wrong timetable, or place – who knows? Next thing, our attention was captured by a street parade.
When you take your children to the show, a visit to the Showbag Pavilion is mandatory. Once upon a time companies would provide free sample bags of their produce. Now it is highly commercial and can cost a bomb if parents aren’t disciplined and pre-plan their purchases. Since it was early evening the crowds had temporarily thinned. We did a walk-through for old-times’ sake. Food treats such as chocolate, liquorice and other confectionery now vie for attention with toys, marketing merchandise and other “stuff”. There were even some make-up bags which looked good value.
You can bring your own food to the show, but I don’t know how parents would convince their children to eat that in the face of all the food-stalls that are there now. This is in addition to the Country Women’s Association hall and the produce on sale in the Food Dome. For “dinner” Bill opted for sushi and I settled on a spinach and cheese gozleme. It’s fair to say this wasn’t our healthiest eating day 🙂
Not done yet, we again headed to the stadium – this time for the rodeo. It was dusk now, so my photos of the real action are useless. The best I can offer is an overview and a grainy image from the overhead screen. This is the bull-riding. The rider has just taken a tumble. And can you see the clown in the barrel?
Finally we got to see a glimpse of working dogs. The handler had been equipped with a microphone to explain what was going on. It threw the dogs off because his voice was echoing around the stadium. They coped well under the circumstances, but one steer did manage to break away and took itself off to the chute back to the stables.
It was probably going home to bed, which we decided was a good idea for us too!