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Royal Melbourne Show

Tuesday, September 26 2006

I hadn't been to the Royal Melbourne Show since 1999 and hadn't been to the showgrounds themselves since the 2001 Big Day Out so while I was interested in the work going on there, what changed my mind about going this year was the 'Live at Night' series of shows (I was originally going to try and go to several of them.)

Lots of things have changed since I went last. The rides all but ambush you when you get off the train. Rumour has it this has annoyed the operators no end and they are plotting revenge for next year. It was a bit of a shock after seeing the giant milk carton near the train station all these years for it to be gone.

Also there were no loudspeakers belting out "DAGWOOD DOGS - COOKING, BAKING, BASTING ALL THE WHILE". I understand that they want to go upmarket, but if you're going to the show you want to eat junk food as it is part of the experience. I finally found a stall selling them 'under the counter', but only after the trial of the showbag pavilion. I remember that there once used to be several buildings selling showbags, putting them all into the one place is a recipe for enraged parents and wailing children.

The arts & crafts pavilion was OK, but I liked the old one more. The grand pavilion that housed the Gippsland food stalls should be great for holding other events also.

I did like the Australia vs. New Zealand under 21's woodchop relay and there was a big crowd for it. The singing of the national anthems of both countries by the Victorian Maori Association and Haka were great too. The competition was very close for the most part, but Australia eventually came out on top.

It was a bit more of a challenge to actually see any animals this year. The show committee has removed 'Agricultural' from the title for a reason. You have to go to see the animals yourself as they are not being lead to the main arena for the big parade and the pavilions are on the outskirts.

The Poultry pavilion was great with all the different types of chickens, ducks and turkeys. I also liked going to see the dogs and seeing their owners waiting for judging. I wish I had stopped to talk, but everyone looked very busy. Walking through the cattle pavilion I saw someone almost get knocked over by a bull when it was being led along, but they were OK.

I liked seeing all the horses going out for judging, but I was disappointed in the new horse pavilion as all the horses are in cages and I liked the old style wooden gates with the top parts the horses could stick their heads out. After this I made a point of stopping by the CWA cafeteria and experienced for myself the restorative power of their scones (it at least gave me the energy to go get the showbags.)

After walking around and waiting in line to get showbags, I went back to wait for the Live at Night program to begin which you can read about below.

At least my day was not like this...
Announcer: Graham and the Colonel, did you get along to the Show?
Graham: Tommy! If you don't mind son! What a day we had at the show, with your little nephew the little Lieutenant hey!
G: Didn't it take us a long time to get in?
Colonel: Well, it's not as easy for a five year-old to jump the fence as it is for us Graham.
G: But, didn't the little Lieutenant have a ball on the Ferris wheel? Ha ha! There he was going round and round shooting his water pistol at everyone!
C: Hang on, I didn't buy him a water pistol!
G: Didn't you?
C: Oh God, I suppose I did leave him up there for four hours. Look, they need portaloos on those rides Graham!
G: I think the beers we bought him had something to do with it.
C: We would have made them shandies, but I've been told lemonade's not good for kids.
G: But do you know what the highlight was for me? The look on the little Lieutenant's face as he carried all those showbags!
C: He had about 20 or 30 of them!
G: Hang on! I thought you said he had a limit of four or five?
C: Yeah, but I was getting a bit tired of carrying mine!
G: Colonel!
C: Come on! I went halves with him on his admission ticket!

Live at Night

with Wagons, Sarah Carroll and Rebecca Barnard

Wagons were up first which was great as I haven't seen them play since the Queenscliff Music Festival last year. Henry Wagon dealt with the sarcastic teenagers well and hammed it up on stage. I wish there were some more dancers up the front though as only the kids seemed to get into it.

I had seen Sarah Caroll recently, but as I missed going to see GIT at the show last time I wanted to see her play in the new Town Square stage at the show. I thought she played a great show with her band and hopefully some people bought some CDs after the show.

I was surprised that Rebecca Barnard remembered me from Myspace as I forget most of the bands who ask to be my friend unless I go to see them afterwards. I thought she also played a great set with Ross McLennan hamming it up by rolling around on the ground. I hope her new CD sells well.

Hopefully more people come to see the Live at Night shows and they return for next year's show. If I organise myself better I might even make use of the 'bounce' tickets so I can go to see more than one performance.

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