Easter means many things to many people and is celebrated in various ways around the world. In Sydney however, apart from religious celebrations, Easter also brings to mind memories of the Easter show and also a reminder that the Hawkesbury Show is not far off on the 6th to 8th May. showbags
Whilst the Easter show started of primarily as an agricultural show it has developed over many years to encompass much more than agriculture.
The Easter Show had its origins in 1822 with the creation of the Agricultural Society of NSW in that year. A year later, in 1823, the Society held a show at Parramatta showcasing farming and agriculture. This was the forerunner of the present Royal Easter Show which received approval from Queen Victoria to use the title ”Royal” after she came to the throne, the Agricultural Society of NSW became the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. The RAS turned 200 years old this year.
The Easter Show has undergone many changes in its 200 years whilst Agriculture and rural industries still play a dominant role at the show, side shows, show bags, crafts, woodchopping, and pet judging also provide entertainment and other distractions for many visitors.
Children vie with each other to see who can get the most show bags. The show bags in earlier days were called “sample bags” and were given away freely.
Later days saw the bags renamed “showbags” and came at a cost to children and contain more than sample products, many including small inexpensive novelties and the like. Several showbags are also aimed at adults and may contain a selection of magazines or other material.
In 1869, the event moved from Parramatta to Prince Alfred Park. In 1881, the Government of New South Wales provided land for the RAS at Moore Park; the show moved to that venue for the next 116 years. In 1998, the event moved to a new showground within the Sydney Olympic Park precinct at Homebush Bay. The former Sydney Showground at Moore Park has since become Fox Studios Australia, with associated development known as The Entertainment Quarter.
The show continued uninterruptedly after 1869, except in 1919 (during the Spanish flu outbreak), the years of 1942 to 1946 (during World War II) and 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic)
Whilst the history of the Hawkesbury show is not as extensive it is somewhat similar to that of the Royal Easter Show. The first Hawkesbury Agricultural Show was conducted at Clarendon in 1845. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald at that time described that show; it tells that Windsor was empty and the road from Windsor to Clarendon was filled with people on horseback, in carts and gigs or walking to the show. “Upwards of 3000” attended and they were served by a number of booths “seven of them publican”’.
The show was held in two adjoining paddocks with one for the ploughing match. Twenty-nine ploughs contested and the girls of the district gathered on every vantage point to watch the ploughmen.
The subsequent Hawkesbury shows conducted between 1845 and 1848 were the result of an association between Penrith and the Hawkesbury Agricultural Association. Various shows and exhibitions were then held under different combinations of associations until 1879 when the present Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association was formed. The HDAA has continuously held an annual show at Clarendon ever since. The only exceptions were the show of 1919, ( flu epidemic), and from 1941 to 1946 when the showground was used to house troops.
The HDAA shared the Hawkesbury Racecourse grounds from 1880 until 1986. These arrangements ceased when the show moved onto their present grounds, still at Clarendon, in 1987.
Both the Royal and the Hawkesbury shows feature a grand parade, sideshows and carnival fun for the whole family. So if you have missed out on the Royal you can still have fun at the Hawkesbury during the weekend of the 6th to the 8th May