150 years and still going strong, the Royal Melbourne Show returns this September with action-packed displays, exhibits and competitions, fireworks, foods and parades
Every year in September—this year from Saturday, 17 to Tuesday, 27 September over 450,000 visitors will visit the Royal Melbourne Show (RMS). It is Victoria’s largest and most iconic annual community event. The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) holds it at the Melbourne Showground.
When I was growing up we had a public holiday on Show Day. This one day was set aside during the event and it always fell on a Thursday during the show period. It gave families the opportunity to all go to the show together. I remember the smells, the excitement of the rides and of course the show bags. The show bags were the best part of the show and kids would spend endless hours chatting about which was the best value for money. I remember catching the train into the show, the huge crowds and spending a whole day there, coming home exhausted, but still eager to investigate the contents of those show bags!
Over time, things change, but one thing remains the same and for Melburnians it is the anticipation of the show. These days we don’t have the public holiday like we did before, but the show is still a huge draw card for Melbourne. It is a Melbourne tradition, a place where people from all backgrounds congregate together to share—entertainment, food, latest techniques in farming and agriculture, promoting new and exciting ideas and innovations in other areas outside farming and agriculture. The show has expanded over time and now has grown from its meager beginnings of a rather smallish affair to an event that commands its own media agency to make sure it runs smoothly.
For more than 150 years, RMS has been a feature in Victoria’s landscape. However, RMS is not the only agricultural event taking place in Australia, with most Australian towns holding their own “Show Day” period, attracting locals to participate in everything from rides to “the best sponge” competition.
The first agricultural society in this country was established in Tasmania in 1821 and the first show being held in Hobart the following year. Today there are 587 agricultural show societies across Australia and they comprise the longest, continuously operational institution in Australia.
Across Australia, agricultural shows are much-anticipated local, regional and national events. They are an important part of cultural life in small country towns and a popular event in larger towns and cities.
What’s in store at the show
There are a huge range of engaging, interactive and informative displays, exhibits and competitions. This makes RMS a great value day out to share with family and friends. In fact depending on your interests you may need more than one day. And then, there’s my favorite—the show bags!
For the kids
In addition to the popular Jayco Animal Nursery, where visitors can meet, pat and feed over 500 adorable baby animals including lambs, kids, piglets and chicks, the 2016 Royal Melbourne Show offers even more opportunities to get up close to farm animals.
Doubled in size, the outdoor animal display will be home to sheep, cows, goats, alpacas, horses, pigs and much more. Due to popularity the animal attraction viewing area has also increased in size offering more families the chance to watch and take part in interactive milking and shearing shows as well as horse demonstrations.
More unique hands-on experiences will be on offer with the expanded Pat-a-Pig and Pat-a-Chook pens as well as farming activities including Digging for Veggies and Little Green Thumbs where children can plant and take home their own seedling.
For the Foodies
RMS’s popular Winning Tastes Pavilion celebrates Melbourne’s diverse food scene with pop-up restaurants and eateries including Bomba, Mr Claws and Pho Nom rotating over the course of the event, while Mr Miyagi, Royale Brothers Burgers and Burn City Smokers will be serving up their delicious signature dishes every day of the Show.
Foodies wanting to indulge their sweet tooth can visit the Winning Tastes Dessert Bar with delicious treats from Bibelot, Le Petit Gateau and LuxBite on rotation over the 11 days, plus Gelato Messina who will be in the Winning Tastes Courtyard offering sensational new flavours, inspired by and exclusive to RMS, for the duration of the event.
Visitors can also enjoy the award-winning tastes of Australia’s finest producers at the Australian Food
Awards Deli washed down with a craft beer at the Brew Bar or local spirit or cocktail at the Winning Tastes Cocktail Bar.
For the love of horses
Celebrate talented exhibitors across livestock, equestrian, amazing creators in arts, crafts and cookery and the toughest axe men and women of woodchop as they compete to win coveted RMS blue ribbons and the top Best in Show awards.
Visit The Weekly Times Livestock Pavilion to see Australia’s finest beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, Clydesdale horses, goats and alpacas as they compete across all 11 days of RMS, including this year’s feature breeds, Charolais cattle and Southdown sheep.
The Horses in Action program will boast a full schedule of over 2,200 entries with horses and riders competing across over 250 different classes. See equestrian’s elite compete for the Providence Cup and Pope Cup on Tuesday 20 September on Herald Sun Area and Turnout Day, where Australia’s top female riders compete in the prestigious Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout on Wednesday 21 September.
The Royal Melbourne All Breeds Championship Dog Show is the leading dog show in the Southern Hemisphere and will see thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes competing for the top prize, Best in Show, including this year’s feature breed, the Whippet.
There will also be plenty of entertainment for canine enthusiasts at the Advance Dog Pavilion, including ‘Nimble’ the Australian Working Dog Rescue kelpie and high jump world record holder, Team Golden—the working Golden Retrievers, Melbourne Canine Freestyle and thrilling Flyball demonstrations from the Four Paws Racing dog team.
For the craftsy
The Art, Craft and Cookery Pavilion will showcase more than 3,000 extraordinary exhibits as well as the opportunity for visitors to get involved in a variety of hands-on activities designed to inspire creativity, plus demonstrations from some of Australia’s leading art, craft and cookery experts.
For the strongmen
Witness more than 50 thrilling events at the Woodchop Pavilion, where visitors can catch Australia’s best woodchoppers hacking it out at the Royal Melbourne Woodchop Championships.
For the daredevils
RMS boasts hours of world-class entertainment the whole family will love. Aquaworld Sky Pirates will delight audiences with their daredevil high dive show from an impressive 30 metres and children will love classic characters Looney Tunes, on stage and in person, while chart-topping musical performances from some of Australia’s most prominent stars will be popular with teens. Witness working dogs herding hundreds of sheep in the Great Aussie Sheep Muster Show, or check out the extreme stunts in the Freestyle Motorcross Stunt Show.
Grand Parade, Fireworks and Show Bags (my favourite)
Witness hundreds of animals take to Herald Sun Arena for the Grand Cattle Parade on Saturday, 24 September and the Grand Cattle Parade of Champions on Monday, 26 September. With the largest ever offering of rides across three big carnivals, hundreds of showbags to choose from and glittering nightly fireworks, a day at RMS is a true celebration.
Details and Prices
Open daily from 10am to 9pm, the best way to travel to RMS is by public transport with trains, trams and buses making for a simple and quick commute.
This year, RMS offers even greater value with savings of up to 25 per cent on tickets and 30 per cent on rides by pre-purchasing tickets online early at www.royalshow.com.au. In an effort to help protect the community from exposure to and illness resulting from second-hand smoke, the 2016 Royal Melbourne Show will also be a smoke-free event.
For more information, visit www.royalshow.com.au