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Royal Queensland Show

Royal Queensland Show 2017 and 2018

The Royal Queensland Show is held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, annually for 10 days straight sometime in early to mid August. It normally begins on a Friday and ends on a Sunday. Its 7th day is also a public holiday in Brisbane, known as “People’s Day”, and typically falls on either the 2nd or 3rd Wednesday of August.

YearDateDayHoliday
201716 AugWedRoyal Queensland Show
201815 AugWedRoyal Queensland Show

Note: Brisbane only.

The Royal Queensland Show is more popularly referred to as “the Ekka Show,” “Ekka” being a kind of abbreviation for “exhibition.” The show was originally called “the Brisbane Exhibition,” and it is still held on the Brisbane Exhibition Ground in Bowen Hills, a suburb of Brisbane only about a mile from the city centre.

The first Ekka Show was held in 1876 as an Australian equivalent to the International Exhibitions being held in the UK at the time. It drew around 17,000 visitors, rather high numbers for its day but nothing compared to the 500,000 or so who come to the Ekka Show nowadays.

Originally, the show’s purpose was to display agricultural and industrial products of the city and region. This is still a major element of the show, but in reality, it has burgeoned into an event with many different aspects to it.

Probably the most important competition is the cattle judging, in which over 1,000 head of cattle compete for the coveted blue ribbon and the grand status of “Champion of Champions.” You can see hundreds of different kinds of animals at the showgrounds, including: milk and beef cows, cats, dogs, fish, chickens, turkeys, horses, ponies, goats, sheep, ducks, pigs, alpacas, and more. There are animal parades, an “animal boulevard,” and an animal nursery.

There are numerous “non-animal” competitions as well, including in wood chopping, in whip cracking, and a fashion parade. There are educational, agricultural, equestrian, and flower and garden exhibits. There are live musical performances, a sideshow alley with numerous carnival-style rides, school bands and choirs, demonstrations of farm and wilderness survival skills, cheese making workshops, and fireworks displays every night.

Besides what was already mentioned above, some other worthwhile things to do at the Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane include:

  • Taste the wide array of food items that will be available. The most classic is the Ekka Strawberry Sundae, which raises money for a local hospital. Also classic are Pluto pups (corn dogs), fairy floss (cotton candy), and burgers and chips (french fries). There are a number of good restaurants on-site, many refreshment stands, and an International Food Hall. Also look for fruit cakes, fudge-dipped strawberries, and jam-and-cream scones, which are a kind of sweet bread that is a little like a cookie and a little like a biscuit.
  • Avail yourself of some “showbags” at Showbag Pavilion. These are bags of candies or other foods or novelties that are sold in combo bags, usually at discounted prices by companies with an eye for a good advertising opportunity. They range in price from one to a hundred Australian dollars.
  • Take the Exhibition railway line to the station in the middle of the showgrounds. The ride lets you view the grounds, miss the traffic, and often, see what it is like to travel on a classic steam train.

Anyone visiting Queensland in August should try to put the Royal Queensland, or “Ekka,” show on their itinerary. There is no other experience quite like it, and it only comes once a year.