I was raised in a rural area, and the local agricultural show was a highlight of the year’s social calendar. My love of a country show started in infancy. Here I am, aged about 18 months, all dressed up at the Innisfail Show.
The show is an event that brings the community together. It’s a chance to showcase skills, talent, and creativity. We see it in the woodchop and equestrian events, livestock showing, dance and band performances, cooking, spinning and weaving, photography, quilt making and more.
My family moved to Brisbane when I was 14. The tradition of going to the show was replaced with an annual trek to the Ekka. The focus shifted to rides and sideshow alley, though I remember still loving to visit the pavilions.
I moved away from Brisbane when I started work, and my show-going tradition ceased. That was until we moved to the fringe of town. Then I discovered the Mudgeeraba Show. The charm of the country show from my childhood was recaptured in this local event, which has just celebrated its 89th year.
When we started going to the Mudgeeraba Show 7 years ago, I once again experienced the pleasure of wandering through the pavilion admiring the flowers, fruit and vege displays, craft, and cooking. The latter brought back memories of my mother cooking for the show when we were on the farm. I recall her bringing home many prize cards. I decided to give it a go the following year. So I cooked up some cakes, biscuits, and scones. As an afterthought, I threw in some coconut ice in which I had seriously overdone the pink food colouring! And it won!
Encouraged by some early successes, I’ve entered exhibits every year since. These have included things like sunken and lopsided cakes, and some pretty average-looking scones. But as a friend commented, if everyone only enters perfect-looking exhibits, there wouldn’t be much in the pavilion! So whatever it looks like, in it goes, because it will contribute in some small way to the success of the show.
As a child there were 2 things I looked forward to most at show time each year. One was the excitement of getting a new outfit to wear. The other was the anticipation of picking out a ‘doll on a stick’. With large painted-on eyes and lashes, these little plastic dolls were dressed in layers of pretty tulle trimmed with sequins and glitter. I remember there being rows and rows to choose from, and recall the thrill of making a selection and carrying the doll around for the day. They seemed to capture the colour and magic of a country show, and served as a beautiful memento of the occasion.
The first time we went to the Mudgeeraba Show I was so delighted to see a kewpie doll at a stall selling handmade items. I made a grab for it ahead of a young girl who was eyeing it off. When she saw the “don’t even think about it” look in my eye she wisely backed off…..
As I carried it around that day, a couple of women about my age stopped to ask where I’d got it, and were disappointed to be told it was the last one. Seems it brought back some fond memories for them as well. I’ve never seen them since though every year I hopefully keep an eye out. Mine sits on my desk as a reminder of country shows past and present.
So did I enter some cooking and other exhibits this year? I sure did! Here’s a follow-up post on my adventures in show cooking in 2017.
Do you have a country show that you wouldn’t miss?