Monday, January 7, 2008

The Ekka is the annual show of Queensland, Australia. Its formal title is the Royal Queensland Show. It was originally called the Brisbane Exhibition and therefore is now usually known as Ekka, due to the phenomenon in Australian English of shortening lengthy words. The First Ekka was held in 1876 and created quite a sensation among more than five thousand citzens who were eagerly waiting to enter the grounds. During a time when the Ekka was still young, the main purpose of the agricultural show as its name suggests, was to show off many agricultural and industrial exhibits. It was a chance for people to show off newly invented agricultural and industrial devices such as ultra modern plowing, sowing and harvesting artifacts. Cattle and other farm animals were also exhibited during the show, a practice that remains to this day, the animal nursery is still a place for children and adults alike to go and witness all the baby animals in all their glory. Since its opening in 1876 the show has only been cancelled once, in 1919 throughout the time of the Spanish flu pandemic, during this time, the grounds were employed as temporary hospital wards for the sick.
The Ekka is held in Queensland's capital city, Brisbane, for ten days each August at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground. The Ekka is organised by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA), and is held at the RNA Showgrounds in the inner-city suburb of Bowen Hills approximately 2 kilometres north-east of Brisbane's city centre. The Ekka is Brisbane's most popular event of any sort, with well over 600,000 visitors attending the show in recent years.
The showgrounds are served by Exhibition railway station on the Exhibition railway line on which special QR CityTrain passenger services operate during Ekka. CityTrain passenger services do not use this line at other times. Brisbane Transport also operates two high-frequency bus routes to Ekka - Route 500 from the city centre and Route 600 from the nearby northern suburb of Windsor.
Attractions at Ekka include fairground rides, a sideshow alley, animal parades, woodchopping competitions, agricultural displays and equestrian events. Showbags, usually containing food items (such as confectionery) and novelty items are sold in the Showbag Pavilion. Side show alley in particular has been an integral part of the Ekka, however back in the earlier years of the Ekka, side show alley was a place for people to witness actual sideshows, such as freaks of nature, people carrying out superhuman feats of strength and illusionists performing for delighted audiences.
Showbags are also an integral part of the Ekka experience. Today there are almost 500 different showbags available for visitors to spend their money on and enjoy samples of products. Showbags range from $1 (the famous Bertie Beetle Bag) to over $50, providing companies the opportunity to show off their merchandise to the public.
The Ekka, due to its large attendance, creates an incredible injection of wealth into Brisbane's economy. Estimates of this number average around the $100 million mark, yet this amount may fluctuate with weather in Brisbane at the time (a particularly wet August may reduce attendance significantly).
Because of the cultural significance of the Ekka, the city of Brisbane holds a public holiday on the Wednesday (the 7th day) which is known as "People's Day". School students are also involved in the entertainment of the Ekka, often schools organise excursions for students in their school band or choir were they perform and represent their school. Other South East Queensland local government areas hold public holidays for the Ekka on the Monday or Tuesday (the 5th and 6th days).