Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Show with No Horses

This year's Royal Adelaide Show was hamstrung by the enforced ban on horses in the wake of the equine-influenza outbreak. No blacksmithery and farrier displays; no horses in the Grand Parade; none of the obsessive, cult-like manifestations of the subculture that is show jumping.

Show jumping is something I knew a great deal about when I was a little kid and devoured all available pony-club and show-jumping books (I was never allowed to have a pony on the farm, partly because my father had and still occasionally does have nightmares about being expected to lead his uncle Ross's prizewinning Clydesdales

around backwards when he was a very small child and has stayed well away from horses ever since).

Even my own adoration of these beautiful, powerful, graceful and intelligent animals took a bit of a beating in 1988 when one particularly unprepossessing specimen executed a tricky simultaneous gait-changing and direction-changing manoeuvre at a canter through a steep creek bed somewhere hilly north of Melbourne and dumped me on some rocks, but I'm still very sad there weren't any at the Show. The alpacas nearly made up for them, but not quite.

This little black alpaca was knackered.

Other animals I would have liked photos of: the gigantic bulls, peacefully lying in the straw with their hooves tucked under their chests like cats and the farmer's little kids climbing all over them. (Camera out of batteries by then.) The racing and diving pigs (didn't have enough energy left to wait, much less walk, around for another 20 minutes till the next race). The strange-looking people trotting their dogs around the dog-showing ring, straight out of Best in Show (batteries again).

This was supposed to be a photo of the upside-down roaring tigers, but it seems to have turned into one of those pictures of festively primary colours that look like children's doona designs.

Again with the violent colours. I liked all this raffish sideshow dazzle and noise with the soft colours and contours and the stillness of the Adelaide Hills in the distance.

This hi-tech ferris wheel is definitely not the same one I remember breaking down in 1963 with me and my sisters and my Scottish grandma up at the very top of the ride.

Meanwhile, in the handcraft hall and bakery section, someone named Susan Rabbitt had won first prize for these fabulous-looking passionfruit and lemon butters.

Shrek wedding cake, considerably more tasteful than some of the wedding cakes I've seen.

Fascinators are back, if they ever went away.

Young Elyse (this is the Primary School division) definitely deserved this blue ribbon: these are the best Chocolate Crackles on display by a very long way. No icing, coloured sprinkles or cutesy printed paper patty case thingies, just lots of chocolate and no mucking about.

And the thing I'm saddest I didn't get a photo of? Legendary Adelaide broadcaster and columnist Peter Goers, whose OTT-quirky gift for radio I have never heard equalled, striding along the path to the ABC tent clutching a gigantic Dagwood Dog dripping in sauce.


genevieve said...

Now I feel like singing a bit of Camelot.
"Sir Sagramore!"
"Didn't I promise that you may drive me to London on the day
That I go up to judge the cattle show..."
What a dear little alpaca.

Pavlov's Cat said...

'As it is quite a nasty ride
I shall need someone by my side
Defending me from beast and foe (??) ..'

Like Franco Nero, say.


Anonymous said...

Quite right about the Ferris Wheel - I don't remember any closely set vertical bars when I went on it many moons ago.

Zoe said...

I hope that sweet little alpaca wasn't really knackered.

Pavlov's Cat said...


I doubt it -- if they're good enough to show, they're good enough to breed. In fact I think that's largely the point.

meggie said...

Ahhh the memories conjured by your wonderful images...even if you missed a few. Your words filled the images. Sad about the horses....though I am afraid of horses, even the small ones.
And oh! the terror of the Ferris Wheel!

Anonymous said...

Alapacas do have very 80s haircuts, though.

Kathleen said...

Alpacas are one of the main things I remember about a trip to Adelaide about ten years ago. For some reason, we chanced upon many of them out in the Barossa. (Wow, I just typed "out in the Berocca." Hm.) Suitably Hahndorfian, somehow.

Meanwhile, I feel quite smug: I actually *made* lemon butter last night. It's like my grandmothers, in a jar!

genevieve said...

"and when I choose hoom I prefair go, I pick the strongest knight I know...."
which was Franco, weren't it.
Aaaah yesterday. I had friends who played 'The Lusty Month of May' at their wedding reception.

lucy tartan said...

Was 'green' the wedding cake theme?