The Royal Adelaide Show

There are few events in the South Australian year that I enjoy more than The Royal Adelaide Show.

Picture me, December 2010, straight off the plane, fresh-faced, and totally unaware that the fiendishly demonic nighttime hiss was not all up in my head (like tinnitus) but, in fact, a possum or three. I was completely green to South Australia. And, I kept hearing about a famed ‘Show’ that came to town once a year. I was—to be honest—imagining some kind of PG burlesque troop.

Then, I heard the full title: The Royal Adelaide Show. For over nine months, hearing many a mention of said lauded Show, I came up with countless inaccurate scenarios in my head: a Christian Style choir, a musical theatre ode to the monarchy—Aussie-style, even a host of local celebrities doing a Comic Relief take on The Royal Variety Performance. I must stress that at no time during 2011 was the fact that it was an agricultural show mentioned to me; once—ever.

I made it to my inaugural Show on the 10th of September 2011. It was, in fact, not ‘a show’ at all; but—‘a fair’—or so I maintained adamantly for my second year in South Australia. Why? Well, it seemed more like a fair with the carnival, traders and celebratory mood. It comes across as a pick ‘n’ mix as opposed to a group of scheduled events. I would have imagined a show to have one main event happening at any one time; but The Show is filled with multifarious—arguably main—events staged at a frenetic pace. I do see how this format appeals to the masses; although, I wonder if The Show’s meaning has been diluted and if some attendees never make it to see the prize winners, or if they even relate The Best In Show with The Royal Adelaide Show anymore. 

This year, ‘B’ noted that I have not been calling it ‘The Fair’ anymore. It’s 2013, I have assimilated and am calling it ‘The Show’—just like that, by virtue of three years residency and the nuances of osmosis. As it turns out, Wikipedia asserts that it is an agricultural show with a fair; so it seems I was originally on the right track after all.

In 2014, The Show is 175 years old; no mean feat. Particularly, in a technological age, to have a thriving Agricultural Show that is jam-packed with people, traders, organisations and events for 9 days a year; and as announced this week—in 2014, due to be 10! This shows that there is room for expansion of The Show and development of how it has grown over time to continue to meet the needs of an ever changing and diverse populous. The gender bases of The Show, all to evident in this ardently stereotypical promo video; is changing, somewhat behind the times. And, multi-cultural South Australian society definitely needs further representation. As do disabled communities. But,  The Show is ‘of the people, for the people, and by the people’—I guess ‘the people’ are going to have to rise up—enter and participate; maybe we could bring The Show to a happy 14 days duration. That would be a wonderful addition to The South Australian calendar—coinciding nicely with Queen Lauren Month (my birth month).

Australians are cookoo for Show Bags which I feel I must—regretfully—mention; I am not. I grew up in recession-riddled Ireland, not wasting money on capitalist fuelled sweets and toys was drilled into me from an early age—with or without the odd clip round the ear.

I can’t say that there are many feel good days in the South Australian calendar akin to a day at The Show. There are: ferriers, woodcutters, dressage horses, sheep shearers, exhibitionists or traders, specialist food sellers, coffee carts with proper baristas, show animals, pricey funfair rides, best in show displays and my favourite of all sheep dog trials—to name but a few.

I mean, come on, you can even randomly snap two sleeping huskies, almost spooning, on your mobile phone (see above). That is just one second of joy in a day at the show. It is an unadulterated happiness fest.

Long live The … … … Show! (What did you expect me to say? I am Irish, after all.) 

Facebook photo albums of The Shows live here, here, & here: 2011, 2012, & 2013.

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