On Easter Monday, the family headed off to the Royal Sydney Easter Show.
What is considered an annual event for many Sydney families, certainly when I was growing up, has been an insurmountable mountain for us in the past. While there were many parents zooming around with littlies in strollers, with a very active son and a disabled mother, it wasn’t a possibility for us. Then, as he started growing up and more responsible, I was still recovering from chemo Easter 2014 and Easter 2015, I had a broken foot. Given the monumental size of the show and the entry fees, you need to be fit…or in a chair. So, for us to even consider going to The Show, it meant crossing that proverbial mountain but also is a positive reflection on how well I’ve been going. Yippee!
When I was knee high to a grasshopper, going to the Easter Show was an annual event. We caught the train into Central Station where we met my Dad in Eddy Avenue after work. Then, we caught the bus through Surry Hills with its the rundown terrace houses and alleyways all sandwiched together until we finally arrived at the Royal Agricultural Showground (RAS), next to the Sydney Cricket Ground. There were Kewpie dolls glittering on sticks, the Laughing Clowns with their haunting smiles, the animals, rides on the Dodgems and the Ferris Wheel and the palatial Show Bag Hall..the kids’ equivalent of Mecca. I still remember Mum watching the rest of us fight it out on the dodgem cars weighed down by the show bags we had to get long before time to go home. Lollies, chocolate bars and magic tricks, the show bags were sensational!!
When you’re a kid, you don’t really think of yourself as part of history. Or, ever consider that what you know as “The Show” is something transient, fleeting and an ever-changing chameleon. After all, for your short life, it has always been.
Yet, it hasn’t.
The Royal Sydney Easter Show is the largest event held in Australia, and the sixth largest in the world. The first Easter Show was held in 1823 by the newly formed Agricultural Society of New South Wales, with the aim of encouraging the colony’s rural industries. The site was at Parramatta, 24 kilometres west of the town of Sydney, and the display included horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. In 1869, the venue was moved from Parramatta to Prince Alfred Park until 1881 when the NSW Government provided land at Moore Park where the show was held for 116 years. In 1998, the Show moved to a new showground within the Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush Bay.
So, when we took the kids to the show on Monday, it was in a completely different venue and Geoff and I have only been there once before back in 2002. I know you expect change in that time but it doesn’t mean you like it or that everything has changed. They might not have the cart but they still have the horse, the dodgem cars and the Laughing Clowns. For better or worse, the Kewpie dolls seem to be long gone. Being such a part of Ray Lawler’s play: The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, they had a significance which went way beyond just being something commercial at The Show. ,
There’s also another feature of the show, which hasn’t changed. That is the crowds. The showground was absolutely packed! We didn’t lose the kids or each other, which was an absolute miracle because that usually happens on a fairly ordinary outing. Bearing this in mind, both kids had both our mobile numbers written on their hand in permanent marker. They were also handing out wristbands out there. The lost child at the show is just as common as the smiling child clutching their show bags.
Being the largest event in Australia, Fast Ed wasn’t the only celebrity we met up with . Indeed, just as I suspected, Elvis is still alive!
I also met up with Fomer Australian Prime Minister incognito but still recognizable,wearing his trade mark “budgie-smugglers” or Speedo’s.
After everything we said and did at the show, the last photograph had to go to the Ferris Wheel.
What are your favourite memories of going to a show?