Hooves, horns and helium - the Show must go on
Are we a nation of Akubra-wearing graziers? Of rough and ready carnival operators? Sponge cake bakers called Joan? Or a collection of young mothers pushing strollers festooned with Show bags ?
The truth is we are all these people and more. For the tens of thousands of people who arrive into Australia and settle in Sydney each year, the Sydney Royal Easter Show may be their first experience of the real Australia.
The Show is so big and diverse it is almost impossible to describe. But once you have experienced the Show, you know what it means - it gets under your skin.
You create memories that last a lifetime and start family traditions that last for generations. This is the real Australia; you can hear it, smell it, taste it and even step in it.
A visit to the Show is part of our shared Sydney and Australian identity. The Show reflects contemporary Australian culture and our historical and real ties to the land.
Knocking the tall poppy is also a well-known Australian trait. In recent years, it has been fashionable to bag the Show by saying there isn’t as much agriculture as there used to be and it’s too commercial.
That is complete bull dust. There will be more than enough hooves, horns, bellows and bleats to get a screen-addicted city kid up to date on all things agriculture. The Show is not a theatrical production, a TV show or a computer game – it is real life up close and personal.
This year there are more than 13,000 animals on the site and 29,000 entries in agricultural competitions. And the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW invests $7 million each year into agricultural competitions and promotion which reflects our core charter. The RAS has been promoting agricultural excellence for over 188 years.
The type, execution and level of competition has changed with the times but the core values of education and excellence has never been stronger.
The Show has been a ritual for city and country families. It is about spending quality time with friends and family and creating memories for the next generation. Now the Show has gained a broader following on a world stage as well as in our own backyard.
In 2010 13,000 tourists attended the Show from China, Singapore, Japan and Korea and we expect those numbers to double after our recent promotional tour in Guangzhou ,Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The Chinese media and travel wholesalers could not believe the skill of the Show’s woodchoppers and whip crackers we took with us on tour. They had never seen anything like it. The secret is out.
And that is why the Show is also a big hit with new families settling in Sydney.
Nearly one third of Sydney residents were born overseas, and the bulk of those from Non-English speaking backgrounds are Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese speakers.
When we do research in these communities parents tell us they like the family nature of the Show. They say the Show gives their families new experiences, something to remember about what it is like to be Australian. It is a powerful representation of Australian values and character.
The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW through the Show gives these communities a taste of Australian agriculture and our national identity.
The Wild Ride of Cobb and Co in the main arena each night might be thundering good entertainment, but it also tells one of the stories about how this nation was built.
There are hundreds of exhibits around the grounds, from the dairy cows to the careers in agriculture stand, that help people understand more about the real Australia.
This year the NSW Government has bestowed major event “Hallmark” status on the Show to recognise its community and economic contribution. It has been 188 years in the making, but I think Sydney is starting to wake up to the fact that they have their own world-class event.
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