Archive for the ‘Show Tails’ Category
Now the Show is done, what does the RAS do for the rest of the year ?
That is a very good question. So much effort goes into putting on the Show for 14 days, but what does the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW and all the Show family do for the other 50 weeks of the year?
Planning for an event as big as the Sydney Royal Easter Show works on a 24 month cycle. Planning is well advanced for the 2012 Show beginning on April 5 (stick that date on your fridge today). Livestock exhibitors are already thinking about what animals they will begin preparing to bring to the Sydney Royal in 2012, and the folks who put the district exhibits together are already scheming about how they are going to end Northern District’s seven year winning streak.
The Show’s dedication to promoting excellence in agriculture does not end with the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Before we talk about the other things the RAS does, we need to recognise the extensive range of competitions at The Sydney Royal Easter Show: alpacas, arts and crafts, caged birds, cats, cattle, district exhibits, dogs, field crops, flower and garden, frogs and reptiles, goats, horses, honey, pigs, poultry and pigeons, rabbits, rats and mice, sheep and fleeces. Then there are the human competitions; rural achiever, young farmer challenge, showgirl, young auctioneer and woodchop.
It is an immense coverage of the agricultural industries and rural endeavours. A number of these events build up through local and regional competitions (through the local show movement) and culminate at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
On top of these Show competitions, the RAS also runs the the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, covering 11 competitions held in February and September each year. In February the competition covers summer acquaculture, beer, bread, coffee and pasta. In September the competition covers spring aquaculture, branded beef, branded lamb, deli meat, olive oil and regional food.
February is a busy month. The Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show is held in February each year and covers butter, milk, cheese, icecream and gelato, cultured milk products, gelato, sheeps, goat and buffalo milk. And to top it all off, the Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show attracting 2283 entries in 60 different classes is also judged in February.
The pinnacle of all the wine and fine food shows in the Presidents Medal, held in July each year. The Presidents Medal judging process begins with the 5,000 competitors who submit their products to the Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food Shows each year. From those competitors the Show Champions are chosen, and the Chairs of the Wine, Dairy and Fine Food committees select six of those Champions as finalists who are in the running for the President’s Medal.
Representatives from the Medal judging panel, which include eminently qualified experts from the food, restaurant and marketing trades visit each nominated producer. As well as the outstanding quality of their product, judges are scoring competitors for their passion, commitment, enthusiasm, environmental practices and pursuit of excellence.
The President’s Medal award ceremony takes place at a huge celebration dinner in Sydney attended by some of Australia’s best-known food and wine critics and connoisseurs, where the six finalists’ produce features on a menu designed especially for the occasion by some of Australia’s most acclaimed chefs.
In 2010, winners of the President’s Medal were Carla Meurs and Ann-Marie Monda’s Holy Goat Organic Chevre (goats cheese) from their Sutton Grange Organic farm at Castlemaine in Victoria.
So the pursuit of excellence in agriculture is a year round obsession for the RAS. If this sounds like something you’d like to be better informed about or become involved in, why not become a member of the RAS so you too can be part of the Show family, 52 weeks of the year.
Show Tails is now taking a bit of a break to recover from the 2011 Show. We will be back to talk about the Presidents Medal and other RAS events throughout the year.
Real Show Food: What the Exhibitors Eat
With 800 exhibitors staying each night, and with many more coming onto the site each day to work with their animals or compete in Show events, feeding the humans is as big a job as feeding the animals. If you are from the bush, chip on a stick, a turkey leg or a dagwood dog is just as tempting as for any city slicker. But after a 14 day Show, and add in a few days to bump in and pack up, the joy of eating Show food is replaced with a yearning for the tucker they cook back home.
The exhibitors and competitors on site form into little communities within the big Show community. The blokes who look after the woodchop competition, who spend all day wrestling with logs, and cleaning up the stumps afterwards, bring their own cook with them. So every morning, not long after dawn, the smell of fresh sizzling bacon and eggs wafts out of the woodchop pavilion.
Then there is one family of pig breeders, who bring down a side of home cured bacon, supplemented with fresh eggs from the poultry display at the Show. Instant, fresh, bacon and eggs for breakast.
The hearty and home cooked is a recurring theme. Where it is practical, people prepare their own food in communal kitchens in the pavilions, or put something together in the walkways between the animal stalls.
A popular place to chow down is the Cattleman’s Cafe in the Munro Pavilion. Its not open to the public, but it’s very popular among exhibitors. The cafe does 500 meals a day in a mess hall style. It’s traditional home style cooking. Roast of the day, lamb cutlets, shepherds pie, heaps of vegetables and salads. While it has its temptations of chips and hash browns, it is a healthy, wholesome place to eat. John Collins, the cafe’s manager (and part time Elvis impersonator) says the country kids are very polite.
“When they grab their meal they come past and tip their hat to the kitchen ladies,” he says. The cafe operates on a voucher system, so parents can make sure their teenagers on site are well fed, without the temptation to spend their meal money on something else.
The District Exhibits, the massive displays of fruit and vegetables in the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome, require the people who plan and put them together, to be on site for three weeks. Each district (SE Qld, Northern, Central, Western and Southern) brings in its own cooking gear and one of the team is nominated as chief cook. Most of the produce is brought in from the home district, giving the menu for each district team (or court as they are known) a unique flavour. Lesley Dabelstein from the South East Queensland district owns an avocado farm in the Glass House Mountains. For her crew, it’s wholesome porridge for breakfast every morning.
Lorette Walmsley, from Grenfell and the Western district exhibit, says it’s the men’s job to cook breakfast. And the breakfast menu includes tomatoes cooked in balsamic vinegar and sugar. Yum.
Margaret Crowell from Tamworth (Central District) says she never co0ks the same thing twice. She gives her stove a work out; if there is a main meal in the oven, there is a pudding on the stove. There are scones, pikelets, raisin bread, all home made. Margaret makes home made chocolate custard and meringue pie.
Marie Johns from Richmond Hill in the Northern District says she regularly cooks for 24 people, but this often swells to 40 people. Like all the district exhibit cooks, the focus is on traditional baked dinners and plenty of vegetables. Marie has a chest freezer at the back of the exhibit so she can keep plenty of produce from home on hand.
Marie Lindley from Gundagai says the cooking duties at the Southern exhibit are shared around. It’s always hot meals: “I feed these people to keep them working”.
When you talk to the people in the horse pavilions, the sheep and goat pavilions, the woodchop arena or anywhere around the grounds, it is the same story. The Show becomes a series of communities where people come together, cook a meal and enjoy each other’s company. And being able to cook on site, or use the cattleman’s cafe, helps keep the cost down for people travelling a long way from home to entertain and educate the rest of us.
If you want to see more about life around the Show, check out this video narrated by Goliath, the world’s smallest strong man. Goliath picks up some nutrition tips from Fonzy, Australia’s tallest steer. Got any food secrets from the Show ? Comment and lets us know.
When does it all begin for the Sydney Royal Easter Show ?
People often ask me when do you start setting up the Show? Well, that depends who you ask.
For close to a million people, it starts this Thursday 14th but for stud cattle breeder like Dianne Wood preparation for the Show started two years ago….when CRA Bextor (a bull) met RP Mayflower (a cow) and produced Outwest BX Embassy (a prize bull to be exhibited at the Show).The beef cattle breeders from Coonamble arrived with their animals onto the Showground earlier this week.
For me, the District Exhibits are the most amazing spectacle during set-up. The District Exhibits are a competition between the agricultural regions of NSW to see who can come up with best produce and the most creative display.
Finishing touches are being made to the Exhibits now to be ready for the People’s Choice Award judging on the first day of the Show.
For the apple polishers and scarecrow makers that bring the District Exhibits to life every year schemes are hatched and plans are made underneath the Exhibit stands to outsmart competitors from across NSW and into Southern Queensland. These amazing pieces of biological art are 12 months in the making. It’s great they are here again given the cyclone and floods that affected so many of our growing regions.
For Michael Collins, the Show starts years in advance – the dates are already set for 2015.
Michael has been General Manager of the Sydney Royal Easter Show for the past decade, so for him, the Show never ends.
Just like the Show Insider, Michael knows the Show inside and out.
Michael’s advice to Show fans this year is to plan your visit. He recommends using the My Show Planner and Suggested Itineraries tool and getting your hands on the new iPhone App to make sure you get to see everything you want to.
But if you miss something don’t worry, the Show Insider is on the case and uncovers stories from the Show each of the 14 days so you won’t miss the polo, the rodeo, the show jumping and the camp drafting.
Yep, the Show Insider loves horses. It’s only two more sleeps till the Show gates open, and we’re down to the finishing touches. All the carnival rides are in place, the animals are moving in, the food stalls are cooking up Show favourites, all we need is you.
Is there a part of the Show you want to know more about ? Post a suggested topic; the Show Insider will reveal the inside secrets of the wonderful Sydney Royal Easter Show.