The Sydney Royal Easter Show 2018

“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 🙂

RAS Sheep Shearing (2) (640x309)

A fun tussle between electric shears and hand-held clippers

RAS Pumpkin Competition (3) (640x445)

The Flower and Garden Pavilion included The Great Backyard Pumpkin Challenge

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”.

RAS District Competition (4) (640x321)

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.

RAS Pigs and Piglets (4) (640x474)

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 . . .

RAS Dairy Cattle (2) (640x466)

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.

RAS Bulls and Beef Cattle (3) (640x469)

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.

RAS Woodchop (6) (640x532)

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.

RAS Pet Birds (4) (458x640)

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?

RAS Heritage Centre (3) (640x504)

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.

Across the stadium, it was the teamster wagons under scrutiny

RAS Dressage 2 (486x640)

There was a dressage competition going on nearby.

And then came the main event. My photos are too much in shadow to represent the action. This is from Wikimedia Commons, T. T. Taylor 2001

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 🙂

RAS Tractor (1) (640x418)

Some big boy had left his toy parked around the  back

RAS Mounted Police (1) (640x438)

The mounted police were keeping a watchful eye on proceedings

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.

Rider in the Beaudesert Camp Draft, 1940, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland., Public Domain,

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.

Uncategorized: Easter Show Showbags Uncategorized Astonishing Picture Ideas Sydney Rand Showdown Las Vegaseaster Nrma: 63 Astonishing Easter Show Picture Ideas

Source: Aperweb Easter Show Picture Ideas

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!RAS working dogs (640x230)

20 thoughts on “The Sydney Royal Easter Show 2018

  1. This is wonderful! It’s amazing that at the opposite side of the world the structure of the show is almost identical. At the Great Yorkshire there isn’t a fairground (just a Ferris wheel) and they haven’t caught on to the Show Bags yet either. Thank you for bringing this to my attention Gwendoline!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous photos and it does look an enormous show. I too was surprised to see the ‘Royal’ label, and reading and looking, I can see that the Show has a long history. Although, I see that the Sydney Royal Easter Show is on for a lot longer than our county shows. It does resemble the agricultural county shows of the UK doesn’t it, particularly with the Arts and Crafts tent (cake judging etc). I’ve been to the Royal Norfolk and the Suffolk Show and I even worked the Essex Show many years ago when I worked for the millers W&H Marriage & Sons. Incidentally, I found working the show was more fun than being a visitor.

    These type of shows occur all over the world now don’t they? I wonder if they all have cake judging?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think they all do. We have several much, much, smaller shows in country towns that run for a weekend. My friend and her husband always enter – she for needlework and knitting and he for dahlias. I think baking was such an integral part of being the good country wife that we will never lose the tradition.

      Having said that, I was disappointed in the decorated wedding cakes at the show. They are all mostly novelty now. They could just as easily be a birthday cake.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the USA we have County and State Fairs in late summer at the end of the growing season. Never gave much thought about the end of the growing season under the Southern Cross. Thanks, Gwen for a lovely post that only confirms how much alike people all over the globe are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point – I hadn’t thought of it in that way either. It has always been dubbed the show “where the country meets the city”, and I think its primary purpose is to showcase agriculture. Most important in this day and age where people think the food is grown on a supermarket shelf.
      Perhaps the original timing was based around people having leisure time at Easter. In Australia there are summer crops and winter crops as we have little snow; and our “ranches” can be huge enterprises of sheep and cattle. Goat is also a growing export. I think it costs a lot of money for the farmers to bring their livestock to the show – vast distances all around the state – but I think the pay-off is the value of having a best in show for breeding, wool production, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s big! And the events change every day. There were more things happening in the show ring after the rodeo and working dogs – popular entertainment such as circus trapeze and car races.
      In my study I have two framed photos I took at a rodeo thirty years ago. In the photography section at this year’s show I saw one almost identical on display! Of a female rider just rounding the barrel in her race. “Barrel racing is a rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time”. The horse is in so tight it is practically down on its haunches. All very exciting stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The Lady & the Unicorn | The Reluctant Retiree

    • Thank you Derrick. I’m so glad you liked it. In the heritage centre there were many photos of royal visits, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Princess Anne and so on. So at first I thought the royal dated to that time but it is much older – allowed by Queen Victoria in 1891 when we were still independent colonies and tied to the “mother country”. I guess we are loathe to drop these “honours” until we finally vote to become a republic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Anyone says they’re off to the Easter Show these days I say tell them they’re off their heads.
    Haven’t been to a show in this state or any other for years, used to enjoy the animals parading around the main ground/arena

    Liked by 3 people

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