The EKKA is on - and the town is abuzz with it now. It is the Brisbane Exhibition Show - the time that country meets town, when all those years ago the livestock breeders would come to display their stock, show off the latest agricultural machines and meet other country folk.
It is called Ekka, because Aussies love to shorten all words and this was more convenient than Exhibition.This show is so loved by all as it was THE show of the year and everyone looked forward to it. After all these years, it started in 1876, it still holds a very special place in the hearts of all Queenslanders.
This is the time when the animals are still paraded, the fair ground is lit up, the children are whooping and laughing on the rides, when parents dutifully hold the hundreds of "show bags" that they acquire for knock down prices at the fair and where everyone comes to have a good time. It is probably Brisbane's most famous show and it attracts some 400,000 visitors a year.
Its EKKA time - the days are sunny and warm, the skies are so blue and occasionally there is a wind picking up to freshen us all up. I decided that the best way to find out what this is all about is to volunteer and that is what I have done. I have been a steward for the Garden Platform and its programme of talks and presentations from keeping "chooks," ( Oz for chickens), how to compost, or grow roses in Queensland to many more which go on for ten very full days.
Its been such a great time and I suspect I haven't seen the half of it. While it holds onto its roots as the agricultural and livestock show, it has also moved with the times. So now there are seafood counters where you can get delicious and creamy oysters, wines from the surrounds, and enjoy cooking demos all day long. There are competitions for everything you can think of, wood cutting, milking, sheep herding, poultry, pigeons and eggs, to horses and dogs, studs and cows but also fashion shows and cooking competitions and cake decorating.
There are fast food outlets with extraordinary things called dagwood dogs, candy floss, all sorts of burgers and grilled meats. There are several Greek stalls and some Italian food outlets too. Most popular of all are the strawberry sundaes where 13 tonnes of strawberries are used to decorate 13,000 litres of scooped strawberry ice creams every year. In the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation stall buying a strawberry sundae will mean the profits go to medical research. Since 1990 sales of the sundaes has raised 14 million for research projects. Now how about that for a good outcome any way you look at it.
Here are some of the highlights of the agricultural pavilions and more on the animals in my next blog.