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Brisbane Ekka: The Royal Exhibition
Brisbane Ekka, more formally, the Royal Exhibition, is a ten day affair and the biggest event in Brisbane. It even warrants its own public holiday. In 2011 it will run from August 11-20th, although if you can avoid going on the weekends or the 17th (the public holiday) it is best as these are usually the busiest days.
The Ekka is put on by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland and has been held annually for 133 years. It celebrates all the glories of the agricultural traditions such as animal shows, wood working competitions, and farming exhibits. It also incorporates new twists on traditions such as a Cotton and Wool Fashion Parade.
One of the high points of the Ekka is the ‘Exhibition Wednesday Raceday’, when it’s time to get out your fancy clothes and watch the horse racing. This is the time where ladies wear their best summer dresses and fascinators in their hair. Men don’t have to be quite so smart.
The races aren’t held at the RNA grounds but nearby at the Eagle Farm Racecourse (Doomben). It’s worth missing a day of stomach-churning rides and burgers for a pleasant afternoon of wine and canapes, with the added excitement of a wager on the horse of your choice.
There are carnival rides and games on the RNA showgrounds and hundreds of food and drink stalls. If you’re looking for the full Ekka experience having a Dagwood Dog and a Nestle Peters Strawberry Sundae are a must. There’s also the showbag tent where you can pick up any one of hundreds of different showbags. Each showbag is stuffed with goodies from food, toys, perfume, or other trinkets.
The rail laying and other bygone rural and indstrial skills are interesting to watch for a time but in the end, it’s the rides we come for.