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The Show never really leaves…
Two weeks on from when the gates opened to the public, the final day of the Show is suddenly upon us.
When the Show wraps up, the Animal Nursery has a few days to be cleared before it becomes storage for the equipment from other animal pavilions, including living quarters and cattle lofts.
While nearly everything related to the Show is packed and taken away from the venue altogether at its conclusion, there are a few special installations that have a permanent place.
“The windmill, being one of the central features of the Animal Nursery, is actually from a farm near a small town past Tamworth,” said Keegan Nye, second-in-charge at the Animal Nursery.
“It was no longer operational, so we chopped it into pieces, couriered it down to Sydney and re-welded it back together into the Animal Farm where it stays all year round.”
Along with the windmill, the Animal Nursery’s duck pond is one of the only other permanent features, both being installed for six years.
The Working Dairy is something else that couldn’t happen without a permanent construction, only being operational for the Show period. Milking nearly 200 exhibitors’ cows twice a day, the fully functioning mini-dairy also does public demonstrations every hour on Show days.
According to SRES Dairy Manager, Shannon Bennetts, a temporary version of the working dairy would take three months to install and a few more to take it back down.
Over in the carnival, the Skymaster Wheel has had its frame firmly planted on Olympic Park since the Show relocated to the location. The actual wheel still needs to be dismantled after each show.
It’s nice to know the Show never completely leaves the Showground each year, resting, ready for another action-packed two weeks, in a year’s time.
Old favourites: The traditional carnival
A collection of old favourites have delighted showgoers at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show, with some of the more traditional rides proving popular with both young and old.
‘Laurie’s Steam Merry-Go-Round’, complete with hand carved timber horses and a German organ from the 1920’s, is a classic on the carnival circuit, and a favourite with many of our smaller visitors.
Built in 1898, the carousel is the only mobile steam driven merry-go-round in the country – and, it houses some history, being turned by the engine of a small boat that used to transport sailors out to their ships.
And the tradition does not stop there, with Nathan Laurie now operating the 153-year-old attraction, which was transported from Germany by his great grandfather Francis George Laurie.
Mr Laurie said the steam from the carousel is “magical” to the smaller showgoers, and many flock to the old-style ride to have a turn.
After a ride on the carousel, head over to the Coca-Cola Carnival, and have a leisurely play on the ‘Circus Clowns’.
Still with the motto of ‘every player wins’, the clowns are an old favourite at the Show, and children and grandparents alike flock to the well-known attraction to take a turn at winning a prize.
At the end of the day, when your feet are tired and you may be feeling weary, the popular Ferris Wheel is a certain hit.
The ‘Skymaster Wheel’ features 24 old-fashioned carriages for showgoers to sit back, relax and enjoy the bird’s eye view, on one of the traditional icons of the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
“People love this wheel. We have people who come back year after year to ride it; some people who have ridden it ever since we’ve had it. We had a ninety-five year old lady on there three days ago, and every year since she was young she has come back to ride it,” said current owner Alan Woodall.
With the ‘Skymaster Wheel’ a permanent fixture since the Show moved to Sydney Olympic Park, and a common sight at the Moore Park Showground prior to that, there is no doubt many showgoers revisit childhood memories when they have a ride on it turn on the old favourites that are here at the 2013 Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Something extraordinary for your tastebuds at the Show
The Show is the perfect place to take your tastebuds on an adventure, with an array of weird and wonderful food ready for tasting.
To immerse yourself in all the flavour of the Show, there’s no place better than the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome. Jam-packed with indulgences from across the world, there’s nothing bland about this fresh food haven.
To try an old-fashioned Aussie favourite with a twist, head to Mick’s Bakery. With Lamington Pie a speciality of this true blue bakery, nothing says Aussie more than the glory of a lamington disguised as a pie.
For the braver bunch at the Show, the Chilli Factory is a must visit vendor. With the world’s hottest chilli, the Trinidad Scorpion up for tasting, this stall will be sure to spice up all showgoers lives. For those tough enough to handle the heat, a celebratory T-shirt will be awarded.
But if setting your tongue alight with chilli isn’t your thing, perhaps try the stall Shocola where Australia’s largest Easter egg sits proudly on display. The 1 metre, fifteen kilogram structure of delicious chocolate takes one whole day to make, providing a sugar hit like no other.
And if ordinary cheesecake isn’t hitting the spot, showgoers can try a deep-fried cheesecake on a stick. With the golden and crispy treat a flavour sensation, it’s a dessert not for the faint hearted.
So be sure to leave your diets at the gate, and treat your tastebuds to some of the ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ delicacies we have at the Show.
It’s a family thing
The Sydney Royal Easter show is the perfect family event. Thousands of families attend the show each year as visitors, but did you know the Show is also a social family event for many of the exhibitors?
Rather than heading out on a family holiday over the Easter break, many families choose to travel to the Show together to display their animals as a family activity, mix with other country folk, see old friends and make new ones.
You only have to step into the animal pavilions to see this family tradition in all its glory.
Found in Cattle Pavilion is the Wilson family, chatting away and enjoying each other’s company. Brian Wilson is now the owner of the Shirlinn Jersery cows, after it was passed down from his own father a few years ago.
“My parents first started showing these cows in 1971, and after following him to the Show every year I soon found a love for them too,” Brian said.
Brian’s son Todd is now next in charge to take the reins of this family tradition, and according to Brian, he cannot wait.
In the Alpaca Pavilions, Jenny Carey and her daughter Alex showcase alpacas together, a passion passed down from generation-to-generation.
“My mother wanted to own her own business, and alpacas were an easy animal for a woman to handle on her own. Now my entire family exhibits this friendly, cute animal and it’s a fantastic way to spend time together. My daughter Alex says it’s more exciting than Christmas Day,” Jenny said.
Exhibiting with family members is a proud tradition for many, and one we hope continues for many more years to come.
Not your average sleep-over
When the vendors have shut-shop and the showgoers have returned home, the Show is not over for some.
Among city folk who visit the Show daily, it’s a little known fact that hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of animals call the Showground home for the two week duration. Over 800 people sleep at the Show every night, most in large wooden boxes called ‘lofts’.
Scattered amongst the animal pavilions, the lofts are two storeys high, just over two square metres wide, and often house entire families at a time.
Elle Mangan from Newcastle, NSW, has had horses at the Show every year for as long as she can remember. “It’s a lot easier to look after the horses by sleeping here,” she said. Staying on Showgrounds also provides exhibitors the chance to acquaint with old friends who come together each year, creating a strong community feeling around the pavilions.
But Elle warns to not expect a lot of shut eye when you staying in the lofts. With tired eyes, Elle explains that it takes a few nights to adjust to the noise. “A good night’s sleep is few and far between,” she said.
One area of accommodation hidden from view is the pop up homes set under the stands of the Commonwealth Bank Main Arena. Michael Spicer, who has resided in the makeshift residence throughout the Show period, has returned for his sixth Show this year.
But don’t think slumming it phases this Show regular, “I just love it,” he said.
Michael is the go to man, looking after anything and everything at the Show. He says it’s a long two weeks and a lot of work, but he still has fun especially when his children come to visit. “Of course it’s noisy but it’s a great set up and we have a nice little community here during the two weeks,” Michael said.
A sleepover at the Show is certainly a different experience. It is a tradition of the Show for some, and one that will continue in years to come.
A healthy rivalry around the grounds
The Sydney Royal Easter Show is all about showcasing the best of the best – and when you look closely, there certainly is a sense of rivalry around the grounds. From food stalls, to the animal exhibits, and even the show rides, the competition is fierce and modesty is for the faint hearted.
“I believe I am the best fairy floss fairy – at 5 o’clock, if you come back around, I will have a crazy special on. It’s all about pumping them full of sugar and keeping them energised,” Chris Kelly of the Floss Factory said.
Chris is a devoted employee who does anything he can to get his fairy floss walking out the door, and says his hidden secret is to make friends with the customers.
“I’ve noticed we do three bags for $10, where most do three for $12. But remember, just because we are the cheapest, doesn’t mean we aren’t the best! Ours has no added sugar – beat that!” he laughed.
But it’s not all sweet around the grounds, with sideshow alley seeing a similar competitive streak.
Surrounded by pumping music and adrenaline rides, Alice Trevor of the ‘Catch-A-SpongeBob’ sideshow says her customers are often poached by neighbouring games, with extreme rivalry part of the deal in the carnival business.
“You really have to work for your money – and it makes a massive difference where your sideshow is. Sometimes you think you have a customer but they literally get called away,” she said.
The competitive rivalry doesn’t just exist in the carnival area. The competition is fierce between showbag operators in the Showbag Hall. The Bertie Beetle bag has long-held the title of the cheapest bag around the grounds – but this year, the cheeky Blinky Bill bag has stolen its thunder, coming in at a miniscule $1 a bag.
But, rivalry aside, the smile of happy showgoers is the most rewarding prize of all for those competing around the grounds.
Hands-On Experiences at the Show
There’s no point in being passive at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show, with plenty of tactile experiences to heighten the reality of your showday.
It wouldn’t be a day at the Show without getting up close and personal with the animals. This year, there are several feathery and furry friends to become closely acquainted. Pat-a-Pig and Pat-a-Chook sessions are back by popular demand, but seriously, who goes to the Show only wanting to pat TWO animals? The Farmyard Nursery is the place to go if you want to brush shoulders (or hooves) with goats and lambs, among other farmyard favourites. Don’t think you’re too old to enter the Farmyard Nursery – the Show is all about revisiting old memories.
If you appreciate animals for what they provide rather than how they appear, you may like to milk a cow at the Milking Barn or try your hand at shearing a sheep in the Sheep and Wool Pavilion.
Children who fancy themselves as culinary connoisseurs can head down to the Food Farm and try their hand at a Cooking with Kids session. Up to 150 kids can experiment with ingredients to prepare a tasty treat to take home. Watch their faces light up when they realise pizza does not “come from Domino’s.” To coincide with the ‘take away’ theme, the Little Diggers initiative allows children the chance to plant herb seeds in a pot to be nurtured at home.
Aspiring ringmasters can hone in their talents with free circus workshops in The Park. Held daily by Ashton Entertainment, you can learn how to walk a mini-tightrope, become a hula hoop whiz, juggle, and spin plates. Use this post as your guide to all things tangible at this year’s Show. Yes, a lot of the stuff is strictly for kids, but I figure that you adults reading this will have your hands full with their showbags. Have fun, and stay in touch.
Volunteering for the love of the Show
An event as large as the Sydney Royal Easter Show doesn’t come together without the help of a special bunch of people. With over 300 volunteers attending the Show each day, they are hard not to miss.
As the quiet achievers of the Show, they are seen roaming around the showgrounds. Wearing green and a smile, the generous volunteers lend a helping hand to showgoers in need.
“We’ve always been in the service industry, and we love to continue helping people,” said Les Robinson, who volunteers every year along with his wife Maureen.
“We get free transport and free tickets but that’s all incidental. The real kick we get out of it is helping people.”
Affectionately known as Team Robinson, Les and Maureen are regulars at the Show and are always happy to come along and share their knowledge with visitors, as well as new volunteers.
Among the throngs of crowds and activities are many other volunteers who offer their time and service to help make the Show an enjoyable time for all.
You may have spotted the St Johns Ambulance emergency response teams rushing through the crowds to attend to a showgoer requiring assistance.
There are also an array of judges, stewards and Councillors representing the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) at the many competitions around the grounds. These volunteers are integral to the Show, using their expertise in various industries to judge and lead competitions.
Offering their time and efforts in return for an unforgettable experience, there is also a group of university students who intern every year at the Show’s Media Centre. The students work on the daily Show newspaper, The Bush Telegraph, assist with social media promotion and help in the Show’s Media Centre.
Thank you to all the volunteers for their contribution to the 2013 Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Style on show at the Show
The Sydney Royal Easter Show is a metropolis of country style. The country folk know how it’s done, and there’s more to it than just cowboy hats and boots.
Each competing section of the Show has an individual style. The list is headed by the cattle farmers. A collared-checker shirt and your classic denim jeans are a good starting point. But to truly embrace the style of a cattle farmer, it’s all about the accessories. No cattle farmer is complete without their belt. It’s what sets them apart. Many cattle farmers go by the mantra ‘the bigger the buckle the better.’ Whilst this may be the case for the guys, for the girls the latest thing is diamantes. Yes, a diamanté studded belt down at the Cattle Pavilion is a tell-tale sign of a true country fashionista.
For the more refined country look, there’s no better place to look than the horse stables and the equestrian click. A helmet, some beige breeches and a pair of sturdy knee-high boots, and you’ll be fitting in with the best of them.
Dog exhibitors on the Dog Judging Lawn have an entirely different look. Whilst the dogs are paraded around, many eyes are on the handlers in their colourful attire. The dress-suit is a common dog handler’s favourite. Pastel colours are a classic, but floral prints are an emerging trend on the greens. Judges say the outfit has to compliment the dog and the handlers should be well-attired.
But dog exhibiting fashion doesn’t come cheap, with many spending over $400 on new suits for the Show every year.
Tricks of the grooming trade
Animal competitions at the Show are often fierce, with competitors exhibiting their prized animal for a chance to win a coveted Sydney Royal ribbon.
With animals judged on everything from appearance, temperament and behaviour, exhibitors go to any lengths to ensure their animal is in prime condition.
Grooming Show animals is serious business as they must be looking their absolute best in order to impress the judges. One broken feather or hair out of place can cost an exhibitor the first place prize.
Animal exhibitors have a number of grooming tricks to ensure their animal scores the best it possibly can in their category.
We went behind-the-scenes to get the tricks of the animal trade when it comes to grooming at the Show. Did you know:
- Chickens are washed with wool wash to keep their feathers soft and are then rinsed with the laundry product Blue to keep them shining white.
- A chicken’s favourite part is always the blow-drying. When done correctly, this practice can fluff-up a chicken to appear three times its normal size.
- Pig breeds like the Large White are brushed with talcum powder to enhance whiteness, while darker pigs are basted with olive oil…not for flavour – for shine!
- Dog grooming is dependent on their type. Fluffy dogs like the ancient Chinese Chowchow are rubbed all over with potato flour to draw dirt and moisture from their fur, and then back-combed to enhance volume. Some owners use gel or cream to smooth out the fur on a dog’s paws.
- It wouldn’t be entirely out of place to see a cow farmer with a permanent marker, colouring in stray grey hairs on black cattle before judging.
- Some horses lose their five o’clock shadow before Showtime. Horses grow beard-like short thick whiskers around their mouth and nose which are often trimmed off for presentation. Hooves are slicked over with a layer of black paint.
- Alpacas are the hippies of the Show. They are kept as close to their natural state as possible. The only grooming they endure is toenail clipping.
There are many more grooming tips and tricks out there – many of which the breeders are certainly hesitant to disclose.