I love a Country Show…

I’m not talking about the big city ones, all fairground sideshows, pricey showbags and corporate marquees like the Sydney Easter Show.

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Some of these babies are still in use…

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He’s a handsome devil, isn’t he?

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There are some suprisingly good paintings there, including one I’d love to own

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The RM Williams mobile country wear shop. And a gratuitous truck shot for the Husband….

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Bone dry, dusty ground, and as a concession to the 32C weather, less formal riding attire than usual…

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.

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17 thoughts on “I love a Country Show…

  1. A delightful post. I remember shows like that in Warwickshire. Should you have been on your feet that long?

    • katechiconi says:

      Luckily the showground is well supplied with tree stumps, benches, picnic tables and other perching spots. It was a wonderful morning, and well worth the slight ensuing wobbliness!

  2. tialys says:

    We used to go to a huge one in Sussex every year but it did tend to get hijacked by a lot of commercial stands. I didn’t mind the relevant goods such as wellies, riding coats, dog leads, etc. but I couldn’t see the link between some of the things on sale and a country show. I recently went to one here in France which was much more ‘authentic’. Hope you didn’t overdo it too much but I think you would go crazy with too much rest and recuperation.

    • katechiconi says:

      Dorrigo Show is too small to attract an audience for ‘irrelevant’ goods; it’s all tractors, workwear, boots, hats and whips! The food is surprisingly good, as a lot of it is imaginative and locally produced. You’re right about going a bit bonkers with too much enforced rest, and on the other hand, too little exercise doesn’t help the healing process either.

  3. EllaDee says:

    I love Dorrigo. The G.O. and I when we visit do what-if rounds of the real estate agents… And I love a country show. We go to Macksville Show whenever we can. One of my tree-change goals is to enter some of the “best” competitions and come away with a ribbon. Last January, we spent a lovely morning at Dorrigo Markets held at the showground…. the G.O. had a close encounter with, and I quote, “the biggest spider and biggest blue tongue you’ve ever seen in your life” in the gents toilets!

    • katechiconi says:

      If you ever do decide to look seriously at a house in the Dorrigo area, speak to Murray or Jane at Dorrigo One Real Estate. He’s the best RE agent I’ve ever met at matching client to house, and they are great friends of mine. Like you, I’d love a Best In Show ribbon, preferably for my gluten free baking!

  4. Apart from needlework, obviously, I always love the livestock exhibits, especially the smaller animals and the chooks. ‘How can you see with those feathers in your eyes?’ I find myself asking them.
    Did Dorrigo have a family exhibit category? I recently learned that the Esperance show has such a category, and all the members of one family can enter whatever they like – from kids’ finger painting to adults’ leather work and baking. How cool is that?!

    • katechiconi says:

      That sounds lovely! But not available here. There was, however, a large and impressive children’s art exhibition, a children’s baking section and dozens of them showing their dogs, ponies, chickens, ducks and lambs. The poultry part tends heavily towards the practical and huge rather than fluffy and ornamental; that rooster was knee high and slightly scary!

  5. KerryCan says:

    These country shows, or fairs, seem to be very similar the world over. The one you describe sounds a lot like ours–except the food at ours tends toward the fried and, frankly, quite weird.

    • katechiconi says:

      I know what you mean – who in their right mind would eat a Dagwood Dog anywhere except at a show. We had some great food there: fresh smoothies, churros and chocolate, sweet and savoury crepes, cheese, yoghurt and icecream from goat and buffalo milk, goat burgers and more…

  6. Country shows, it is something we don’t have, I don’t know why, it’s invented by the Brittish I think.

  7. knettycraft says:

    Hello Kate… all this looks and sounds wonderful… I grew up in Berlin and Essen where I live now for 17 years is a big city too… For me all this looks like something out of an “Hollywood-film”.

    • katechiconi says:

      No, it’s all very real, including the dust, flies and smell of animal manure. It’s a much loved social event for the town, and I was so happy when I realised I was going to be there when it was happening. They don’t seem to hold shows like this so much in Europe, although in Germany you do have wonderful Weihnachtsmarkts, which I adore!

  8. pattisj says:

    I was about to starve reading about all that good food! 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      Food seems more appetising and ‘real’ somehow if you know how and where it was made, and by whom. On the downside of that, many people don’t enjoy having brought home to them the connection between pigs and bacon, for example…!

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