In an average year, which 2020 is definitely not, there would be 20 agricultural shows in Tasmania, ranging in length from the four-day Royal Hobart Show to smaller, shorter events on the Bass Strait islands, King and Flinders.
- Agricultural shows have run in Tasmania for 200 years but many are cancelled this year
- Your local ABC in Tasmania has recreated ‘the show’ experience in a Virtual Show Day
- Dagwood dogs are a reasonably easy to cook at home
Most of this year’s shows have unsurprisingly been cancelled, but ABC Hobart and Northern Tasmania’s Your Afternoon program has not let that put a dint in the classic show celebrations, with suggestions on how to celebrate a show at home.
The agricultural shows, while providing a serious competition space for agricultural competitors and an annual opportunity for families in remote areas of the state to gather, also provide work for the operators of Side Show Alley, as well as local food vendors.
While jobs have been lost, many of the Tasmanian shows rely on volunteers to make them happen.
Mark Jessop, vice president of the Huon Agricultural Show, said they made the decision to cancel early so that it did not impact stallholders.
He is planning for the 2021 show already, as is Scott Gadd, director of the Royal Hobart Show.
The Hobart Show is celebrating 200 years in 2021.
“The colony was staffed by convicts, the convicts were often hungry, so the big issue on show day was stock theft.”
Day at the show
A day in town for ‘the show’ has been memorable for many generations of Tasmanians, with the larger ones opening for school trips before dedicated ‘show day’ public holidays for the north and south of the state.
This year, despite the cancellation of the shows, the public holidays are still going ahead.
Shows around the country have been an important day in farming calendars, some of them offering an annual social experience for farming which is traditionally an isolated activity.
Show day competitions
Shows have traditionally allowed whole families to get engaged in competition, and display of the pride of their farms, and of the farm kitchens, with best cakes, best scones, best jams being key sections for judging.
Farming families bring their prize stock for competition, but children attending the show may have spent weeks deciding which show bag to choose — the Bertie Beetle or the Wonder Woman, a conundrum for many.
While your local ABC’s Your Afternoon presenter in Tasmania, Helen Shield, is not able to offer show bags, or awards for prize bullocks, the Best Potato Limerick Competition was won by Christine with a limerick about her grandson, Hugh, whose special ingredient for growing potatoes was liquid cow poo.
Reyna from Rosebury on the West Coast won the cake icing competition.
Show day diet
Are you one of those rare birds who have never eaten a dagwood dog, the battered deep-fried saveloy, a mainstay of the Australian agricultural show?
These days, agricultural shows generally showcase some of the best farm produce on offer, but the ability to wolf down six doughnuts and jump on the Gee Whizzer ride still has show cred.
Jarrod Sorbian is a chef at a Hobart pub and he has recently offered dagwood dogs on the menu.
He told ABC’s Helen Shield that while it took a few attempts to get the batter right, it is a basic process to make them, and he encouraged people to jump online for a recipe.
History of the dagwood dog
The Australian Food History Timeline website reports that there was a court case in 1949 following the sale of the first dagwood dog, which another fried food stall had been selling as the proto pup, a North American invention.
In court, the product was described “a stick inserted axially in the frankfurt, leaving a portion thereof protruding.
The court case was settled when the dagwood dog vendors agreed to pay a royalty for every axially inserted saveloy sold.
The sounds of the show
Eighties pop songs blasted through tinny speakers, lambs bleating from the petting zoo, or grunts from teenagers as they lead their prized, bottle-raised merino sheep around the ring are tricky to replicate from home.
But a sound that you can easily replicate at home is that of a child who has had too much sugar and has lost control.
This can be achieved with fairy floss coating the child’s hands and face, crunchy pink sugar is a must — and to excess.
For the authentic Hobart Show experience, recreate this scene underneath a sprinkler: Show days in Hobart are notorious for their rainy weather.