I thought I might put down a few things from my childhood just because Sharon reminded me of how much fun country fairs/shows are.
These were major events in our calendar as they gave people the chance to show their stuff, meet everyone, eat candy floss and ride the fairground rides and maybe even win a kewpie doll or two.
My preparation as a primary school student was to plant a garden from a school package and show the results in situ. I also got to decorate a saucer with flowers and make a few things. I won the button hole and spray contest every time - I was good with flowers.
The town hall would be decorated with flower arranging, vegetables, preserves and handwork, knitting and sewing. My mother won overall three times I think but never entered the cooking/preserves because although she was a good cook she said her stuff wasn't pretty enough. She mostly won knitting, embroidery, flowers and that sort of thing. She has a stack of first prize cards along with seconds and thirds - sometimes for the same competition. I have a small stack of these cards myself hidden away.
After that, we would go look at the sheep, cattle and pigs etc. Sometimes there would be a wood chopping contest and those were almost my favourite (after the hall displays). There was always horse riding and off to one side there was a small fairground with carousels, coconut shies and, if we were lucky, a small ferris wheel. It was a difficult choice as to which ride to go on because we only got a small amount to spend. Dad always got us candy floss though and several times won us toys (he had a really good aim).
There was also fizzy drink which I didn't really like but was part of the whole deal. That was the only time we got fizzy so it was a bit of a novelty. (now it just seems every day which is a shame really). And then we would go home happy.
My brother had a favourite part too and that was the tractor and implement displays. They were great shining beasts to us and sometimes, if the man in charge was in a good mood, we would be allowed to sit in or on them. They seemed very high to us and made us feel important.
Later as a teenager, I got to enter the embroidery contests at the main Otago fair and this was a big deal as I was in the senior and open grade and I won three major prizes. I got a stack of book vouchers for this and lots of kudos. I also annoyed the embroidery teacher as she didn't know I had work like that due to the fact that I was relatively new in the school and was catching up on some basics in her class. She neglected to ask about what I'd done previously as she knew I had no formal lessons and just assumed I was a beginner. I was too shy to say anything because I always felt inadequate for my lack of qualifications. She was so mad with herself because I was apparently just the sort of student she dreamed about and she had me for two years and I wasn't returning. My loss too of course. I don't think she would ever make that mistake again.
The agricultural and pastoral shows still happen although they have lost their importance with easy travel available for all. I suspect that fuel availability may influence their renaissance and that will be a good thing as it does help draw the communities together and prevent too much isolation.
viv in nz