the show! the show!

The Royal Show will soon be coming here to Adelaide, as it does every year.
The weekend paper has a listing of all available show bags.
This year there will be 328 different bags.

How the heck does any kid choose from such an enormous number?
I guess a lot of kids have their favourites, Dora the Explorer, Girl Power, Bob the Builder, Transformers and so on. Many adults too, with mums choosing Darrell Lea or dads choosing the Giant Licorice one.

I don't know how things are done in your town or city regarding the sale of these bags, but over here, they are all housed in one huge pavilion. Stall upon stall of different bags. I can imagine the chaos in the first couple of show days, with thousands of parents and their kids all clamouring for their favourite. By the time the show is half over, sometimes even before, many of the current "big favourites" have sold out.

This year, the bags range from $1 for a Blinky Bill bag containing 5 small 10g chocolates in different flavours, (a bargain if you're buying a treat for a toddler too young to be clamouring for, oh, Hannah Montana, for instance), to a $40 Morish Jumbo bag that has 5 x250g jumbo chocolate nut bars, some pretzels, a praline bar and something called a Pop-a-jak.

The contents of most of the kids bags read like they'd be fantastic bargains, lots of toys and trinkets, but sadly, as usual, I'd say most of these contents are cheaply made in China and probably won't last much longer than it takes to eat whatever candy is included.

It's all part of the fun of going to the show, I know, but with rising admission costs, food stall prices, rides (love the Ferris Wheel), and sideshow alley, you'd almost have to remortgage the house to get there.

I remember, way back through the mists of time, when I was just a little tacker, my parents took us to "The Show". It wasn't the Royal Show, we lived too far away, but the annual show in a nearby town.
Entrance was free; show bags were called sample bags, and that's exactly what they were.
Bags filled with sample sized products of the items on show at the various stalls. I do mean filled and they were free, because after all, they were samples. (Tastings if you prefer that term.)

Mostly these sample bags were from the produce hall, with local companies and farms being represented. The dairy bag, for instance, contained little tetra paks of longlife milk, cubes of cheese, pats of butter, in later years tubs of yoghurt.
If you got them too early, the butter pats would melt long before you got home, unless you also then got the bakery bag and used the butter on the bread roll inside it. Around lunch time was ideal.
There was often an icecream stall giving samples; small tastes of the best sellers, and of the newer flavours too. These were in little paper cups with a flat wooden spatula a bit thicker than a paddlepop stick.

Sideshow alley was about the same size as it is now, but there were far fewer fast food stalls.
Mostly fish'n'chips, burgers and of course the Fairy Floss (cotton candy) machine spinning sugar onto sticks while kids waited eagerly for their favourite colour, pink or green being the only options. Later years saw the Fairy Floss coming prepackaged in cellophane bags.
Soft drinks were available, but I don't remember there being any beer tents.

Most people brought their own picnic lunches along. Along the creekside would be many colourful picnic blankets with mums handing out sandwiches and bottles of cordial to the kids who'd been running all over the fairground all morning, working up an appetite while their parents watched the sheepdog exhibits or looked at the craft exhibition.

These days even the small country town shows rival the big Royal Shows in the money stakes, but I think maybe the atmosphere in a small country show is still much the same as I remember. I hope so anyway. I hope the Devonshire Teas tents do a roaring trade, just like they've always done.


  1. Fairy floss, I still love it. I get it from the food hall, Altona Gate. The girlies behind the counter give me a knowing look. "For the kids," I tell them.

  2. The annual trip to the Royal Show was the highlight of the year growing up. I was allowed to pick three showbags and would study the 'guide' for days beforehand and do several laps of the showbag hall to make sure that my special three were indeed the very best.

    Sapphire isn't a big show girl but has loved going to the smaller ones with my folks when we lived in SA such as the Strathalbyn, Kangarilla and Port Elliot ones. She has always hated the noise of the sideshows so has saved us quite a bit of money!

  3. R.H.; Pink or green? I always chose pink.

    Kath; I'm not much of a big show goer myself, the noise and dust give me headaches. We did take the kids the first year we came back to Adelaide, but I've only been once since then. I prefer the smaller country shows, but don't get to them either.

  4. Showing my age here but I remember going to the Melbourne show when I was about 14 I guess and the show bags were free! Last time we went to the Sydney Royal, you couldn't move in the showbag hall although typically we go for the displays, animals and ring events, I've never, never been on anything in Sideshow Alley, I have a fear of Carnies hahaha

  5. Baino; I used to love sideshow alley, with the games and all those prizes on offer. I never won any of the good prizes, being totally useless at tossing balls or rings or whatever. I always had a go at those clowns with the open mouths that you drop ping pong balls into and they slide into a numbered track. Your total score determined which shelf you could choose a prize from. I won a rubber snake once and a tiny box of coloured wax crayons that didn't write.


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