I’m not talking about the big city ones, all fairground sideshows, pricey showbags and corporate marquees like the Sydney Easter Show.
I’m talking country shows. Horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, poultry. Best cake, best jam, best bread, best mango chutney. Best eggs, vegetables, flowers and hand crafts. Fresh local bacon sangas or scones, jam and cream being served in the luncheon pavilion. Stalls with local cheese, smoked goat sausage, handmade leather belts, wrought iron, work boots, Akubras and straw hats. Working dogs and working horses, show ponies and petting zoos.
For three years, I lived in a small mountain top town, where everyone knows everyone. It had a tiny hospital, a golf club, a bowls club, an RSL, the Top Pub and the Bottom Pub, a local policemen and the doctor was versatile enough not only to push some pills at you, but stitch up agricultural accidents and do minor surgery. I had to move away eventually, but I still love that town, I visit regularly, having family and great friends there, and I was fortunate enough this time to be spending some time convalescing there while the Show was on. I tottered around the stalls and displays for nearly an hour before my energy gave out, but captured some images to remind me of what it is about this place that is so endearing. The Dorrigo Show is a treasured celebration of the good things this tiny town of 1500 souls has to offer, and of the indomitable spirit of the place.
These days, it’s cattle country, horse country. A place of old families handing land down from father to son, of people belonging to the history of this place in a very real way. Sixty years ago, it had a department store, a dairy, a cinema, a taxi service. That was in the time when this beautiful plateau supported thriving dairy and timber industries. It had a railway service, and a hydro electric dam supplied the town with electricity. All that has gone, but it’s still a beautiful place, one to which people are drawn again and again, and some come to stay.
I don’t suppose I’ll ever go back to live there, but I’ll never want to stop visiting… especially at Show time.