One sage piece of advice my mother handed down to me from her forebears was “Don’t take your baby to the Ekka“. As far as I can remember I never did take a baby to the Ekka; I certainly took small children there but probably left the baby somewhere else because it’s no fun taking babies anywhere.
The Ekka is held every year (when there isn’t a pandemic) in August. For those not from Queensland, the Ekka is short for Exhibition which is short for Royal Queensland Show. In New South Wales they have the Royal Easter Show and as far as I can recall it was never shortened to anything, which must mean Queenslanders are lazier than New South Welshpersons, except for the footballers who keep winning the State of Origin, but that doesn’t count because football is boring.
When I was a child, such shows were all about the rides and the fairy floss, because that was the only place that magical foodstuff could be found back then. Now that I’m a grownup I hate rides and would go into a diabetic coma if I ate fairy floss so instead I visit the cakes, craft, and chickens. There’s something comforting about the fact that people still do things like tatting, felting, and just making stuff for fun.
This year they had a Platinum Jubilee theme so there were cakes paying tribute to Her Maj. The winner was a cake with HM sitting on a park bench with Paddington Bear, but I preferred the one of her hat and bag. (What does she keep in that bag?)
The chickens were fascinating as ever because there are always a lot of chickens that look totally different to the usual chooks you see in picture books, but it’s always a little bit depressing to see them in individual cages. Some of the girls, lacking a nesting box, had resorted to laying an egg straight on the bottom of the cage; it’d be like being locked up without access to a toilet. A few were having a sleep, it being that time of day, when I was there; either that or they were just depressed.
Chickens are not usually solitary creatures although I did have one lone free ranger called Esme who was a regular Houdini at escaping and did so literally until her dying day. Chickens like to wander about together with the rooster keeping them in order (when he’s not forcing himself upon them. That’s the payoff for his protection I guess).
Out on the main arena, people were doing dangerous things with motorbikes, but I didn’t stop to watch because I would never be able to unsee if it went horribly wrong and I had to watch a thousand people filming someone’s firey demise.
The Ekka is a glorious anachronism in this age of limitless entertainment on demand. It’s just a little bit weird that so many people are still willing to spend money going to see fruit and veg and farm animals, go on rides, and shoot things to win stuffed animals. I think one of my favourite things at the Ekka is the Country Women’s Association tea room. It’s entirely unglamourous but you can sit down and have a sandwich and a scone made and served by someone who looks like your gran. What’s not to love?