The difference between animals and humans is that animals change themselves for the environment, but humans change the environment for themselves ~ Ayn Rand
With the world focussed on the Royal Wedding spectacle, I went to a Royal show of a different kind – the annual Sydney Royal Easter show. For me, this was indeed a big challenge. Few Sydney mothers have raised 3 children without ever once taking them to the Easter Show. In a few decades of living in Sydney, I have resisted this local tradition. Crowds and commercialism are a miserable combination and I was always hugely grateful to assorted child-free friends and relatives who were thrilled to borrow my keen kids for a day at the Show. A selfish double bonus for me: a day of leisure and avoiding the Show for another year.
The Royal Easter Show is an agricultural event to ‘bring the country to the city’. For some, the primary attractions are the peripherals: ‘show bag’ (expensive product samples), fairground rides, and assorted junk food treats. Held over 14 days, the Show is huge: spanning 21 pavilions, 3 entertainment arenas and a host of outdoor precincts. It attracts over 1 million visitors – 70% of whom are women, many possibly persuaded by persistent kids.
Seizing the opportunity for a change challenge, I hoped that my farming friend escort might help me to enjoy the ‘real’ Royal Easter show. On a supposedly quiet Wednesday, we elbowed the crowds in the Food Arena. Surrounded by impressive displays of produce from different farming regions, there were masses of commercial product tastings and a small (should be bigger) area of prize displays: fruit cakes, decorated cakes, jams, knitting and craft work. We trudged around the horse, poultry, wool, pig and flower pavilions. From afar, I spied show bags, rides and countless fast food stalls. After a few hours we descended dog-tired on a couple of the few remaining seats in the Main Arena to watch the evening events: rodeo, motor-cross (do-not-try-this-at-home stunts on motor bikes) and the Toyota Hilux Heroes precision driving team.
I hated the crowds and commercialism. On a positive note, I learnt that wool has many classes, piglets are cute, the frizzle bantam is a fine looking bird, all fruit cakes look the same, and precision driving is mesmerising. I also learnt that even with an enthusuastic guide and without a tribe of kids, going to the Show was still a challenge. Next year (yes, I’ll go again) I’d like to take up a couple of invitations to see behind the scene – and to see some of the things I missed: the big pumpkin, wood chopping and tea and scones served by the Country Women’s Association.
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