My Fair BrumbyApril 10, 2014
The Sydney Royal Easter Show, to be held on April 10-23, is more than a showcase of our four-legged mates. This event takes a peek at Sydney's past.
Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales, the most populous city in Australia. It came a long way if one would look at the images of the metropolis during the early 18th century. Drought and disease were widespread back then. Parammata Park was an agricultural hub, but the population of 30,000 were struggling. (The gold rush in the 1850s changed the city's fortune.) The first show was held in 1823 in Parammata. Prizes of plate were given for stallions and rams, while servants were judged to reward good conduct and farming skills. The Show was aimed to encourage improvement in local animals and agricultural methods, but the outcome was beyond what the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, the organisers, have imagined.
The growth of the Royal Easter Show reflected Sydney's transformation; a fine arts exhibition became a special feature a few decades later. Even business took part during the turn of the 20th century, giving free samples through showbags. Sydney's urbanisation doesn't mean that The Show became less relevant. On the contrary, the event was an opportunity to show the best cattle, pigs, poultry, and sheep. After all, Australia is a major agricultural producer and exporter. It's like a scene from "Babe: the Gallant Pig", Chris Noonan's heartwarming flick about a pig who wants to be a sheepdog. But the horse is the star of The Show. In fact, they have been there from the beginning.
Here is a timeline of horse competition and events:
1882 Equestrienne classes
1885 Prizes for military and turnout
1886 High jump
1887 Pony harness
1889 Pony jumping
1890 First male children’s class
1891 Water jump
1892 First female children’s class
1895 Hunting contests and Gentlemen’s riding
1901 Pony high jumping and trotting
1907 Tandem jumping
1911 Horse shoeing competition
1924 Mounted Police
1930 Flag races
1957 Three day events
1999 Cutting Horse Challenge
2000 Team Yarding and Reining Horse challenges
2000 Riding for the Disabled
Aside from arts and crafts, there are competitions in cookery and photography, as well as tests of strength and skill. Woodchopping is arguably the most popular, having been first introduced in 1899. It's an agricultural show, amusement park, and fair in one, attracting one million people a year.
Here are more firsts:
1. The first fireworks were displayed in 1884.
2. Showgoers were able to enjoy an evening for the first time in 1894.
3. The Grand Parade was first held in 1907.
4. The first carnival ride was in 1901.
5. In 1927, the Duke and Duchess of York were the first royals to visit the Show.
6. Attendance reached the one million mark for the first time in 1938.
7. The first Showgirl competition was held in 1962.
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