Hello dear friends
Yesterday here in Brisbane Australia, we had a public holiday which we call “Exhibition Wednesday”. It is right smack bang in the middle of our local Agricultural Show which is held for 10 days … thus the holiday. A Grand Parade is held on the Wednesday along with all the paraphernalia that goes with such a day.
This morning when I was thinking about what to write on my blog, I decided to go back to this exact date last year and see what I had written. Lo and behold, a blog about the exhibition came up! How timely. In fact, my granddaughter Alice (12) is dying to attend her very first show in Brisbane and we are on track to go tomorrow afternoon if all goes well.
But for now, let me share what I wrote on this day in 2012. Enjoy!
“Now, if I asked any of you ‘out there’ if you were going to the ‘ Ekka’ this year, would you have any idea what I was talking about? If the answer is ‘yes’ chances are you either live in Brisbane, Queensland or you grew up here and will never forget about the Ekka
‘The Ekka’ is an institution here in South-East Queensland and nowhere else in Australia is a Show/Exhibition lovingly referred to as: “The Ekka!’
In fact, this morning I noticed a question on a Facebook page asking about the Ekka. There were many comments but one flawed me: a man asked simply: “What is an Ekka?” Obviously, this is not a person who has lived in Brisbane for very long!
So, what indeed IS an Ekka? Or more to the point ‘THE Ekka?’ Someone was kind enough to explain to this man that it was the local Show. You know where there are rides and samples bags and food such as ‘dagwood dogs’, cream waffles and of course those wonderful strawberry sundae Ice-creams with real strawberries chopped up and mixed in the ice-cream and in a cone. All of these foods are a ‘must’ at the Ekka … at least one serving anyway except for the strawberry sundaes. You must have at least two of these!
Now we need a good description of the Ekka. Here is one that I found online:
The Ekka is the single most popular event of any sort in Brisbane pulling in crowds of over 600,000 people each year. Organised by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA) the Ekka features everything from agricultural and food exhibits to animal parades and rides. The showbag pavilion at the Ekka is another popular attraction with over 500 show bags on offer it never fails to draw in huge crowds.
Every town has the equivalent of an Ekka surely? What do you call it where YOU live? And who started calling it the Ekka anyway?
The Ekka website describes it well including the origins of the word ‘Ekka’. Even though the first show was in 1876, it wasn’t until the early 20th Century that the name EKKA became common. http://www.ekka.com.au/
The first ‘Royal’ Queensland Show was held in 1921, when the Association was granted the prefix (Royal) under warrant from His Majesty King George V. Since then, the shortened name “Ekka” has replaced “Exhibition” in the Queensland vernacular, indicating locals’ affection for the Show.
Now at this stage, I must reminisce a little and go back to my childhood days in the fifties when life was so very different to what it is now. As there were five of us kids at that time (the sixth came later) money was always a problem, but we solved it by working for Dad who made concrete flower pots on weekends (And therein lies another tale!)
Once enough money was saved, we dreamed of going on rides like The Hurricane, the Tilt-a-Whirl or the Zipper, but we were never content with one ride we would keep lining up for more if we could. And of course, there were Show Bags to buy.
In ‘those days’ there was a lot of truly free samples and when us kids would get hungry we would toddle off to the Jatz Cracker stand for some biscuits and cheese, or the butter stand for scones. And there was often other tid bits going for free and we had the nose to locate them too.
But here I have to make a confession! Toward the end of the day, we would have spent all our money and as a consequence we had no money for the tram ride home a few suburbs away. So all of us would scatter and find bottles (no cans in those days) to return in order to get back the deposit that you paid then. In this way, we would get enough money for the ride home … you would think?
Yes we did. But, instead of spending it on the tram, we would spend it on another ride or on the Clowns and end up with no money again! In the end, when we could find no more bottles, we just had to get on the tram (which was crowded) and when the ticket inspector came near us, we would get off the tram at the end where the inspector was and run down to the other end and get back on.
We might have to do this a couple of times until we got home. Phew, it sure felt good when our stop came and we hopped out without being caught!
Oh, but how guilty we felt! And yet, it was oddly exciting too as we were brought up not to lie or cheat, but the Ekka sent us into a frenzy of excitement where anything was possible … even not paying tram fares.
I have such good memories of the Ekka! Even our kids remember the need to save up money so they could do all the things they wanted at the show. They still tell stories of making apple turnovers (my suggestion) and selling them to the neighbours to earn extra money for the Ekka. What an exciting time it was and for several years we all enjoyed the work involved.
The plan was: Maria would make the turnovers with my help and Daniel would sell them in the street for commission. The neighbours looked forward to July/August every year as they loved those apple turnovers made from scratch! Thus our children added much needed money to their Ekka funds and learned to be enterprising into the bargain.
Now the tradition of going to Ekka is being passed on to Maria’s children as they are living in Brisbane for the first time. Alice surprised me the other day by saying “Grandma, I want to go to the Ekka!”
About time Alice, after living 10 years in Sydney, now you are starting to sound like a true Queenslander at last …” I’ve waited a long time to hear it.