Every child in Melbourne would know about “the show” in September. For those not in Melbourne or Australia that’s the Royal Melbourne Show, held at the Melbourne Showgrounds of course, originally a showcase of agricultural livestock and produce, where “city families” could get a taste of country life. Most major cities and some country towns have their own version of the show, be it the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, or the Bendigo or Shepparton Show.
A peculiarly Australian tradition is the showbag, initially containing samples from various exhibiting companies, and now the mainstay of any visit to the show. Everyone would know the famous Bertie Beetle showbag for a measly $2 (it’s still available for $2 but only has about 3 Bertie Beetles in it). Now you can pick from 380 showbags ranging in price from $2 to $35+. That’s a lot of showbags!
My childhood favourite was always the Lucky Boy showbag, which probably cost $1 in my day – it was full of licorice. I am not sure my parents ever took us to the show – as they had four children, they just couldn’t afford the expense, so they would cleverly find someone who was going and ask them to buy four showbags – and we were ecstatic just with that. I know I eventually went myself with a friend in my teens, riding the famous Mad Mouse, and probably buying a showbag or two.
So why am I wandering down memory lane? Well as it transpires, Sister of a Man-Child innocently asked me about “the show” and whether or not she could go. I immediately explained a few “facts” about the show:
- It’s ridiculously expensive, not just to get in but for the rides ($10 a pop) and the showbags
- It’s very crowded being the school holidays and full of bogans with stacks of whining kids and a pram overladen with scores of showbags
- I have no plans in my immediate future to take you there, perhaps someone will invite you one day
I chatted to a friend shortly afterwards, who said if she took her kids one year she’d invite my daughter along – I honestly think she felt sorry for her. A few days later, my guilt kicked in. What sort of a mother deprives her child of a once in a lifetime visit to the show? How mean could I be? It’s not like we couldn’t afford it. Then, a flash of brilliance. Father of a Man-Child was taking a few days off over the holidays – perhaps he could take our daughter and a friend to the show? After carefully broaching the subject, he agreed he would happily do that, and the plans were complete, and the iphone app downloaded.
Off went Father of a Man-Child with the two girls and a backpack full of supplies to keep them watered and fed and provide the energy to traipse around the kilometres of pavilions at the showgrounds. Suffice to say the day was a huge success and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. As my husband explained, you forget how excited kids are and see the joy of the show through their eyes, not the cynical memories of their parents.
The kids loved every minute of it – the tram and train ride to the showgrounds., the farm animals – cattle the size of a family car, the baby animals – too cute rabbits and lambs, and ducklings, the Masterchef kitchen, the rides – yes expensive and some too scary for a couple of 9 year olds, the working sheepdog displays, and of course the showbags!
Apparently they thought very hard about the number of rides they would go on, versus the number of showbags they would buy. Initially my daughter, knowing me too well, had said that she was close to picking THE showbag she would buy, having studied them on the website in glorious detail. That was when I explained that she could actually have two or three – as long as they weren’t all lollies. OMG, the excitement!
So the five hour excursion to the show was a huge success. We made the day (and the school holidays) for two exhausted little girls, who now have the wonderful childhood memories of a visit to the show. My daughter has taken me personally through the exact contents of each showbag, and relived the day with me with the excited narrative only a child’s eyes can provide.
Hat tip to Father of a Man-Child for taking the girls along and dropping a couple of hundred bucks in a day! Ditto to my nanny 10 years ago who took the Men-Children to the show – I recall it cost me about the same then – plus the cost of employing her. No flies on me. 🙂
What is your favourite memory of the show? Have you taken your kids yet? Are my perceptions of the show incorrect?