Day 1, 4:00am Coffee. Avocado on sourdough. One more coffee. It’s still dark outside and …
Show day! Public Holiday! Rides! Dagwood Dogs! Animal poo! This year I’m taking my family to the Ekka for the very first time and without a doubt my kids are excited. This may be my first time, but for other Queenslanders the Ekka is a long running rural tradition through generations of their family. In preparation for my first Ekka I spoke with two veterans to get the lowdown on what the Ekka is all about.
Mr Ken Crotty first attended the Ekka in 1939 (that’s 78 years ago!!!). His first official involvement was 1968, when he was part of the first meat yield competition in association with Woolworths. Nearly 50 years later that same competition is still run today, using a machine to scan a beast’s muscle area, and the fat cover to work out percentage yield. I’m listening to Mr Crotty explain all this to me over the phone and I realise I know very little about the competitions that occur over Ekka. Some research was in order.
- This is the Ekka’s 140th Year. The show runs over 10 days from 11th August.
- The show attracts around 400,000 people each year, and 400 retailers.
- In 2016 152,000 iconic Ekka Strawberry Sundaes were enjoyed and 184,000 Dagwood Dogs.
- There are 42 competition sections across 11,000 classes attracting 21,000 entries!
Of these competitions, the carcass and yield competition plays an important role, not only for the competitors and judges, but for the meat industry. Stakeholders in the meat industry are involved, this year Coles & Woolworths will both sponsor a carcass competition. No doubt a win in this segment means a serious win for the business back home.
And there is seriously a competition for everyone. This year the Ekka will also host the Australian Arm-wrestling Federation Queensland State Titles. This will be happening at the XXXX Stockmen’s Bar & Grill from 10am-1pm on Sunday 13th August. Grab a beer and enjoy some arm wrestling fun.
Speaking with current President of the Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Society, the peak body of our agricultural shows, Mrs Estelle Drynan emphasised the importance of fun and entertainment at the Ekka. “You could spend hours in the animal nursery”, she smiles, ‘It’s the atmosphere. It’s a different carnival atmosphere that you get anywhere else. You’ve got the smell of the country. That beautiful earthy smell. Then on the other hand you can go and visit the Showman’s Guild of Australasia area, or the entertainment area and spend your time up in the air, whirling around’.
And then there’s the showbags.
“When I first was going to the Ekka, a sample bag, like Sanitarium, would give you a couple of Weet-Bix. And they were giveaways. Then they got”, said Mrs Drynan.
And they are big. Ekka 2017 will have showbags for John Frieda (hair products), Mister Maker, Pokemon, Barbie, My Little Pony. I could go on but I won’t. I’ve heard rumours of the showbag pavilion. It’s the sort of place where you want to put your children on a lead and wear ear plugs. Or so I’ve heard.
There’s fashion, whip-cracking, showgirls, art, cooking, live music, rides galore and animals. According to Mrs Drynan it’s where kids go to learn about agriculture and have fun doing it. It’s country meets city. It’s going to be a load of fun and it starts in a matter of days.
Author: Cat Cookson
Images: Sourced from Toowoomba Chronicle and Ekka Media Library