Special times at the Show
What are your special memories of the Royal Adelaide Show? One of our staff members at the Library was reminiscing about the Show. She mused about how she always loved the fairy dolls on sticks that you could buy there. She proudly displayed her doll in her bedroom. On the front page of the edition dated 12 September 1973, the North East Leader pictured Anne Marie McArthur from Ridgehaven holding a fairy doll at the Show. Lots of little girls would have been envious. Their mothers also loved these dolls!
The fairies on sticks were actually Kewpie dolls. They came in various sizes and the large ones were more ornate. These dolls had glitter painted on their heads and they were dressed in pretty colours, amid several layers of net skirt. The doll was fixed to a piece of cane shaped like a shepherd’s crook, so you could hold it easily and then hang it up at home.
Today Adelaide hosts a myriad of activities for children but in 1973 when your parents took you to the Royal Adelaide Show it really was a special experience. Families were larger so you were fortunate if you could afford to go every year. Children would save up their pocket money for months in advance, in anticipation of purchasing lots of showbags. With the school year having three terms, the Show also fell during the September school holidays.
Some older people might even remember the days when companies gave out free sample bags at the Show to promote their products, which contained mainly food samples. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/six-things-you-should-know-about-the-royal-adelaide-show/8859878 This would have been a boon for poorer kids, especially during the hardship of the Great Depression. These bags were the forerunners of our modern showbags.
Some things have remained the same at the Show. It is still primarily an agricultural event. The price, contents and design of showbags have changed over time but there are still so many to choose from. The ferris wheel and dodgem cars have been refitted and showgoers can play games such as the iconic laughing clowns. However on the map of the Wayville showgrounds Sideshow Alley is now called the Carnival. Patrons can purchase many new types of food are now available at the Showground but you can still enjoy Fairy Floss, waffles, hot cinnamon donuts and even the Dagwood dog.
Some things have gone. The art-deco edifice Centennial Hall was built in 1936 and closed in 2005 because it became structurally unsafe. It has been replaced by the modern Goyder Pavilion. I think that the horticultural displays have downsized but there are still competitions for needlecraft and cookery.
The Mad Mouse, which was the original roller coaster at the Royal Adelaide Show, ceased operation in 2007 and Kewpie fairy dolls have been replaced by toys depicting characters from film and television. The days are over where the Commonwealth Bank used to produce plastic elephant money boxes with the slogan “Get with the strength”. You could also get an iron-on transfer of Humphrey B. Bear for your t-shirt in a showbag from the Savings Bank of South Australia. I used to get excited about visiting the RSPCA shop in the Grandstand complex to build up my collection of Britains brand farm animals. And everyone knew that it was worth getting the Golden Eggs showbag from the egg board – not only for the recipes but because inside the bag you would find a cute molded plastic eggcup with shoes and stockings on its legs.