TIMES ARE A’ CHANGING AT THE SHOW
As I wandered around Sydney’s Royal Easter Show last year I was struck by how accurately this iconic event reflects changes in our society. The cookery section is a classic case in point. If we want it to survive we will have to replace our reality TV cooking shows with something akin to the Great British Bake-off. Contrived squabbling over dinner parties has to go. Participants should be competing to produce the best Lamingtons.
Bakery entries have dwindled alarmingly in size and quality. I didn’t see a single sponge cake or Swiss roll. And where were the Anzac biscuits? The fruit cakes were a pale reflection of their former selves.
The decorated cake section was an even bigger disappointment to a baby boomer like myself. The subtle colours and delicate lace-work of times gone by (below left) have given way to, well something quite different (below right). My late grandmother (a perennial exhibitor in her local show) would have had a heart attack on the spot.
Even the judge seemed to be wondering whether one entry passed muster as a christening cake. Mind you, as a bird lover, I thought it was pretty good.
On the plus side, two sections of the show have expanded beyond belief. The poultry section reflects the current passion for keeping backyard chickens. There is even an art competition based on chooks. Likewise, there is renewed interest in bee keeping and varieties of honey. We are now far more environmentally conscious.
The Country Womens Association remains a popular stop for families, but…..well this photo says it all. Grandma and Grandad piling cream onto their scones in companionable anticipation. Mum and dad checking their phones. What is that little girl thinking I wonder? Probably hoping Grandma will hand her another scone while her parents are distracted.
Our multi-cultural society has provided enormous diversity in Easter Show snack food. Plates of Asian and Middle Eastern delicacies have become very popular Why I persist in buying those truly awful old Dagwood Dogs (battered saveloys) is beyond me. Nostalgia is certainly a powerful force.
By the way, the ferris wheel in the background is benign compared to the terrifying rides new technology has produced. Stomachs must be stronger too, although I avoided walking under the more alarming examples.
As for show bags. Oh my hat! I bought a Minties bag for $10 and it didn’t even include a toy. I guess we did have to move on from the 1950’s, when even little girls like me had a passion for guns.
Sideshow alley, still such an integral part of the show, was so politically incorrect in my childhood that it makes me cringe. The following is a newspaper report from 1930, but it was identical in the fifties. I have to confess that aged eight or nine I paid my two bob (20 cents) to see every creepy sideshow, including the boxing, the quarter man, the half-man half-woman, and Bubbles the nude fan dancer! There was no age limit. Good grief, what an education it was for an unworldly little farm kid.
Far greater attention is paid to entertaining children these days, which is wonderful. There are all sorts of craft activities, and more hands-on interaction with farm animals. Yes, we see our culture changing year by year out at Homebush, but little kids enjoy the Royal Easter Show just as much as I did.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES OF THE SHOW, OR ITS EQUIVALENT. DON’T FORGET TO COMPLETE THE ANTI-SPAM SUM BEFORE PRESSING ‘SUBMIT’.