There’s nothing quite like that magical feeling you get after handing over your ticket and walking through the gates, at the annual Agricultural Royal Show.
After 12-months of anticipation, those first few steps seem surreal as you enter a sensory wonderland offering temptations and treats of all shapes and sizes.
Sideshow alley dominates with its flashing neon lights and whirling machines amid the buzzing sounds of teenagers screaming, children laughing, music blasting and buzzers blaring.
Spruikers try to tempt your cash to buy tickets for blood-curdling rides or to test random skills such as aiming ping-pong balls into the mouths of rotating clowns or shooting down metallic ducks, to win soft toys and other prizes.
In other pockets of the sparse arena, judges clutch microphones to talk-up the genetic virtues and aesthetic qualities of cattle, sheep and alpacas, before draping them in bright ribbons of various colours and significance.
Crowds gasp and cheer as sheep dogs herd sheep, wood-choppers chop wood, shearers sheer sheep, bumper cars bump cars and horses leap obstacles.
The whiff of fresh saw dust and horse manure under foot combine with the rising aromas of buttered corn, hot dogs and chips, donuts and fairy floss.
Toddlers drag their mums and dads about through bustling crowds, saddling them up with show bags, candy canes and trinkets, like obedient but reluctant pack-horses.
In pavilions of various shapes and sizes, arts and crafts are displayed with pride along with culinary creations that fill the bellies and minds of city-folk with serving mutually beneficial exchanges of food for knowledge.
“Wow mum; I didn’t know yoghurt actually came from dairy cows?”
But nothing beats that feeling of running into an old friend you haven’t seen for ages – possibly since the last Show – and re-connecting.
As we reflect on the events on 2020, and the Coronavirus stopping Royal Shows throughout Australia – especially those in so many of our regional towns – it’s worth remembering and celebrating the reasons why we love them so much.
Royal Shows are an integral part of the fabric of regional communities and do so much more for people than bring joyous moments through bright lights, sugar treats, animal petting, wild rides and competition victories.
These events are famous for making great memories and bringing friends, families and communities together as one.
This social interaction cannot be underestimated at this or any other time and nor can the economic value these events provide for so many communities.
Royal Agricultural Society of NSW chief executive Brock Gilmour said the Sydney Royal Easter Show generates $250 million in economic activity each year.
And these events don’t just happen overnight with many months of planning and preparation involved; creating not only jobs but real purpose for people in support roles such as event judging or organising entries for various competitions.
The organisers of the Adelaide and Perth Royal Shows are to be congratulated for producing an online versions of their events this year, after they were cancelled, and they would be first to admit nothing compares to the real thing.
All these reasons underscore why we need to use all of our powers and creativity to ensure we preserve the rich history of our local and Royal Shows and they return bigger and better in 2021; from Darwin to Hobart, Perth to Sydney and everywhere in between.
By Robbie Sefton
Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer, producing wool, meat and grains, and as managing director of national marketing communications company Seftons.
This article was published in The Land newspaper on 22 October 2020. Link to the article can be found here – https://www.theland.com.au/story/6972592/royal-shows-play-an-important-role/