The Brisbane Exhibition started as the ‘Intercolonial Exhibition of 1876″ and was originally held in Bowen Park.
Planning began a couple of years before with the ideal to “embrace not only the pastoral and agricultural interests, but industrial products, the fine arts, and objects of general value, so that the importer and manufacturer could come in side by side, and assist not only in promoting their own interests, but those also of the whole colony.” (Queenslander 13 Feb 1875)
It was held over five days and an estimated 15 000-17000 people visited. As Brisbane’s population was around 20 000 at the time if your ancestor was in Brisbane there is a good chance they would have gone and seen the produce and entertainment on display.
Since then it has gone from strength to strength with the finest produce, animals, crafts and skills on display. Check out Trove to see if your family ever won a prize at the Show?
My great-grandfather, George Howard Busby acted as a recruiting Sergeant during Show week in 1917.
The show-bags or as my Mother called them, sample bags, because when she was a child they contained samples of everyday products. My Mother did grow up during World War 2 so this may have been a sign of the times with the show-bags
This picture is of Heather Rollason and a friend probably late 1930s early 1940s with a number of those sample bags! If you look closely you will see one of them is a Cadbury bag which you will still find available today. In fact, Cadbury has six bags, ranging from $4 to $20 available at this years Show.
The Show did not become the “Royal” show until 1921 under warrant from His Majesty King George V.
Did you know that the Animal Nursery which is now a firm family favourite only started in 1964? You can see more highlights and a timeline of the RNA for when our favourite exhibits first started.
In 2008 Joanne Scott and Ross Laurie released the book:
Showtime: A History of the Brisbane Exhibition.
304 pages packed full of information on the history of a well-loved Brisbane institution, available from UQ Press.
Who can forget their first visit to the Show? The noise and screams of Sideshow Alley, the many goldfish who went home in plastic bags?
Then there was the famous strawberry topped ice-cream, the wonderful Tasmanian chips which sadly are no longer available and fairy floss. We used to wait all year for the fairy floss while today it is easily found at the Sunday markets.
The amazing cakes, beautifully and meticulously decorated, the fine handicrafts, the copy-books from the school-children. The fruit displays where you would look to see what image had been made this year and you would dispute which was the best display!
Then the walk through the animal pavilions to see the well brushed animals, the size of the cattle and the amazing Clydesdale horses. Who would ever have thought there were so many breed of chickens!
Then out to lunch and watch the Grand Parade followed by the sheep-dog trials then off marvel at the speed of the wood-choppers and so on until you had covered every foot of the grounds. Then evening starts to fall and that can only mean one thing: the evening entertainment followed by what we had all been waiting for, the Fireworks!
The presenter would get the crowd to yell for their favourite colour, which would go highest? Red or Green or Blue? The many bright flashes of colour which seemed to over all too soon, then it was time to gather all the sleepy children and head home.
Today you can have all of the traditional things and also Rock concerts, Firemen Calendars which raise money for very worthwhile causes, a wide range of food and entertainents.
The Ekka is many things to many people and has changed with the times while still retaining the many things which make it the EKKA.
Today you can even download the free Ekka app from iTunes. You can use it to plan your event schedule, explore the Ekka map, search for your favourite ride and showbag or follow an exciting trail for your chance to win prizes.
So are you going to the Ekka this year?
Thanks for an evocative post Helen! Being a Brisbane "girl" myself it's part of our culture…not that people associate it with that word, but I reckon it is. BTW I'm not your mother's age but I called them sample bags as well as show bags and they did indeed have samples in them, even in the 1950s. Thanks again.