Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Best of Shows

Saturday Richard, Dee, Barb and I hopped on a train and headed to the Showgrounds to the Royal Melbourne Show.

The Show is basically a cross between the county fairs that I grew up with and the stock show that happens in Denver every year. Lots of people, lots of livestock, lots of rides, and lots of things you never thought to think about.

We started with the animals. Dee grew up on a farm in England, and so she was going to teach us how to buy cattle. We headed up to the cattle shed and found alpacas. Not to be discouraged, we spent some time making friends with these shy woolly creatures.

Since the cattle appeared to be sequestered away for judging, we headed south to the wonderful world of pets. Nothing too exciting there- it was mostly stuff to buy for your pet. Nothing too exotic to see, unfortunately.

Next it was onto the poultry pavilion. We crossed the threshold and all you could hear was chickens. Squawking and crowing and feathery dust everywhere. No wonder Grandpa didn't like chicken! We made our way down the rows and I was mostly appalled by the roosters and chickens in their individual cages. Then we saw this one. It's a butt-faced chicken. I'm sure that is not the official name for it, but that is definitely the name I would give it if I were raising it. Probably Harry, the butt-faced chicken. Yep, sounds right to me.

We also saw some ducks with afros, but they wouldn't sit still long enough for me to get a photo. Just imagine your ordinary mallard with a 'fro. There you go.

Meanwhile, I had an uncontrollable urge to start singing "Surrey with a fringe on top", well, the first few bars, anyway. I'm pretty sure the rest of my group had thought that I'd lost it. That's the trouble with hanging out with poms. They don't get the good American culture jokes.

Next we headed to the animal nursery discovery farm. Surprisingly, it was loaded with children. We didn't say long.

Next up was the arts and crafts pavilion. We saw decorated cakes, knitting, quilts, calligraphy, painting and photographs, and some baked goods. The decorated cakes were my favorite. Some of them were amazing, little flowers that really looked like silk and little structures that looked like they were weaved from straw. I had no idea sugar was so versatile.

Feeling cultured, we headed to the grand pavilion, (which bears a striking resemblance to the Denver airport, by the way) to participate in all the corporate commerce associated with the show. This mostly meant heading to all the tents with goodies and getting free samples. There was a whole section with vendors from Gippsland, a region of Victoria between Melbourne and the New South Wales border. Lots of wine and fruit in this area, so we supported the cause and tried lots of wine. Not so much fruit, really. Since it was a bit early in the day yet for me, I stuck to the wines with cool labels. Yes, I know you are not supposed to judge anything on looks alone, but I figure that if you have a product, you should put some effort into presentation, right? I found one I particularly liked called Bazz Shiraz. I don't remember which vineyard it came from, but I'd recognize the label!

Now we were determined to find the cattle. We headed towards the livestock pavilion and were completely distracted by a huge crowd vying for seats at the arena. Turns out that the monster trucks were up next, and since I was the only one who'd actually seen monster trucks before, (I'm not really sure that is a good thing) we had to go check it out.

The show was really one monster truck, one set of acrobats who did a balancing act on a trapeze and a pole on a crane way too high off the ground, and three motocross bikers who did jumps off ramps (none of this at the same time). I pretty much knew what was going to happen before every step of the show, but it was good fun and now they could all say they've seen it!

Finally we headed to the livestock pavilion and got to see some cows. Sadly, we weren't allowed to go in between all the rows of cows to see them all up close, but we did get some handy cow-purchasing tips from Dee from our perch at the outside edge. It mostly had to do with udders.

Next we headed through the carnival to the market (crap for sale that you really don't need), the sports and leisure pavilion (autographed stuff you don't need), and then to the dog pavilion, where we saw lots of little strange looking dogs you could fit into your purse, and some huge ones that could probably eat you in two bites. No dog shows though. Bummer.

After this it was time to head into the showbag pavilion. Showbags are little bags of stuff for kids. As much part of the show here as the carnival rides, children will study the showbag list for days before selecting the few they get to have.

SpongeBob, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, Cadbury, pirates, princesses, cowboys and bounty-hunters(complete with guns). Everything you could want that was plastic and cheap and filled with sugar. The place was packed. These bags cost up to $20 each, and children and parents had 3-4 of them, dragging them around the showgrounds, hopped up on sugar. We refrained from purchasing any, since all of us are only living here temporarily, and we don't really have room in our luggage for the giant fuzzy purple hat or the pink sequined cowgirl hat. (Personally, I was crushed about that one.) We squeezed our way out of the building, took some deep, calming breaths, and made our way back to the simple life of agriculture.

What we didn't expect to see was woodchopping. This is a sport? Apparently so, and a very competitive one at that. There were multiple heats and multiple events, and even a competition where you stood on the wood you were chopping. One missed chop, and off with the toes! We were impressed. We were also pretty tired, and so after finding a place in the stands to cheer along, we ended up getting mesmerized by the whole process. Soon enough though, we had to get up and make our way to the next event:

The pig races.
I can honestly say I've never seen the pig races, and I don't think that I will ever have that opportunity again. It was quite the spectacle, from start to finish. We were pretty sure that the emcee had lost most of his marbles, but other than that, it was yet another thing to cross off the list!

Completely exhausted, we made our way back to the train and home again.

Vocab for the Day
Chook: chicken. Also used as a term of endearment.

After spending half an hour in the poultry pavillion, the last thing I wanted to see was the chook washing contest.

1 comment:

Trina said...

poultry pavilion - 'nuff said.