Wednesday, 20 March 2013


I was feeling a bit cross with myself for missing every single local country show this year. Once upon a time I used to go to Bungendore, Queanbeyan and all points east, west et cetera. I even used to compete, which was a delusional act, considering my horse had been rescued from the knackers and, despite being beautiful in my eyes, actually had a ewey neck, too long a back and a very uncertain, verging on crazy, temperament. Best hack he was never going to be. Later I got roped into my parents' activities with hackney ponies and horsedrawn vehicles. Unlike me, they were highly successful competitors, but success came at great cost to the mental health of all concerned. I will draw a veil over past traumas, merely observing that stress does not come any more intense than being part of my mother's team on a show day.

Anyway, despite my earlier mixed experiences, I have always remained very fond of a good show. It is their amateur nature that appeals to me, the knowledge that they are usually put together by a committee of overworked locals who probably wouldn't cut the mustard in a Paddington cafe but are willing to work like crazy for their little town's big day. I like the ridiculously long and legalistic list of rules that arrives if you ask for an application paper and I like the way the competition classes and codes of dress for competitors never change. I like the perennial griping about judging. Best of all, I love the crafts classes and the produce sections.

Which is why I was so pleased when I realised on my way to visit my mum on Saturday that the Yass Show was not yet over. Of course, I made a detour. Yass has one of the prettiest showgrounds around. How could I possibly give it a miss?

There was jumping, one of the few sports I absolutely love watching

There was the lovely old grandstand with its little wrought iron turrets (which I haven't captured very well)

There were kids with show bags

There were the kinds of teenage girls that terrified me at school until I got to know them

There was more jumping, hurray

There was poultry for those who fancy it (yes, that includes me)

There were fleeces (of course, it's Yass)

This one got second in the Super Fine category

Which makes you wonder just how fine the first prizewinner's fibre was

There was appalling art and dahlias - presided over, inappropriately by what looks like Dame Edna down the end (it's not the season for gladioli, I presume)

This was the deserving winner of '"Scentsual" - a dining table arrangement of scented flowers and/or foliage' (and here was me saying the classes never change)

This child is clearly overawed by the creative possibilities of boots (and Canberra eat your heart out - that 150 refers to Yass Show's 150th year, so there)

This, frankly, looked a mess to me - and it had no scent that I could detect. Nevertheless it took off second prize in 'Scentsual' (stand by for aforementioned griping about judges)

A very nice dinner party arrangement for Oma and Opa, although evoking in me at least slightly unfortunate memories of funeral home tributes 

The theme was recycling but this entrant just went a bit too far in their pursuit of the theme

whereas this person was very 'tasteful'

The lemon butter section was hotly contested, although preserving fruit seems to have dropped off as a Yass pastime

Someone I know who requested an entry form for the sponge class was told she must be either very good or very brave

Mysteriously, after the judging all the beer bottles were empty

The cakes that didn't win - is this where the phrase 'on the shelf' originated?

The advent of clingfilm has really done nothing to improve the viewing pleasure for spectators at the iced fancies table

But there's always a giant pumpkin or two to cheer you up

There are many mysteries in the universe and one is what exactly makes that plate of cherry tomatoes so much better than their rivals

Whereas it's obvious here that the judges have been influenced by novelty - the first prize winners are not traditional vegetable-garden chillies at all

A lovely frock for the slightly larger woman, should there ever be an international film premiere in Yass
They all looked the same to me, so I clearly don't know my onions

This breathtaking creation won the 'Garment - Adult' and was the Champion of all the entries in all the crafts sections. I am utterly speechless.

This nice man is one of those who I was talking about above - a stalwart of the show; he has been part of it for over 30 years

If you zoom in you can see him in the middle picture - I'm afraid Australia's sartorial standards have not improved over the years.

He was a really nice man who gave me good advice about growing kohl rabi and confided that his swedes had been a wash out this year. He even gave me this golden tomato, which he says is the tastiest variety he's ever grown. I was so touched by the gift that I can't bring myself to eat it. Which is very silly.

It is somewhat ironic that the growing of fruit and vegetables should be such an important part of country shows given that just outside the produce pavilions in side show alley nutrition of a quite different kind is being promoted - if you listen carefully you will actually hear the spruiker refer to a dagwood dog with tomato sauce as 'a three course meal on a stick'
It is quite unspeakable. No, no, it's all part of the fun (ugh).


  1. That song played over and over again throughout the day. It must drive the Sideshow Alley people up the wall.

    1. Yes, I couldn't agree more.

    2. I had a job once within earshot of a carousel. You adapt to the endless diddly-diddly-diddly-doo but I think it's fair to say that as far as work environments go it was somewhat less than premium.

      (Visiting similar fairs here in the United States I notice that the standard fair-food is a flattish piece of deep-fried dough called "fry dough" or a regional variation; there's also a thing called a funnel cake, which is fried batter.)

    3. In Hungary there's a nice flat dough thing that is deep fried and then well salted and smeared with garlic. Its called a langos and on a really cold day it is delicious. But it's the garlic that makes it work, a sophistication I suspect fry dough lacks? I'd always imagined a funnel cake was something very gooey and chocolatey.

  2. How different your show s to the ones reported by Gentle John!

    1. I shall have a look - if you can first reassure me that it's not going to be too scary?

  3. "That there's some corner of a foreign field. That is for ever England."

    1. Not much 'gentleness in hearts' when it comes to the cake competitions, I'm afraid.