The Gawler Show, August 2008

Promoted as the largest rural and agricultural show in South Australia the Gawler Show is always worthy of an afternoon of wandering around - perhaps a full day if you and/or the kids are into sideshow rides and games too.

Gawler is my home town, this is my local show. It's run over two days on a weekend (this year August 30-31). There are three things that attract me to these kinds of shows:

  1. The art, craft, and other judged competitions

  2. The On Stage Entertainment

  3. The fireworks.

I've never been that big a fan of amusement rides and games largely because they seem over priced and I succumb easily to motion sickness (particularly on things that go round and around).

I'm not much into the animals either, cows, sheep, horses etc. though these are a big part of why the show even exists in the first place. (if they had sheep dog trials I'd add them to my must see list - working dogs are just incredible).

Winning the art competition is more about the glory than the prizes which is reflected in the quality of art the Gawler show attracts. There are still one or two gems entered and generally the art is okay but you won't see any professional artists here (seeking the prestige of winning for their resume).

The craft side of things is completely different - perhaps craft is far more of a rural pass time than art? Anyway, you can see some really great quilts, tapestries, dolls, models and more. All of which make up for whatever it is that's lacking in the art section.

In with the art and craft is all the more agricultural competitions where it seems like you can win a prize for almost anything. Being a fan of Rowan Atkinson's, The Black Adder TV series, I can't help but think that Baldrick would be salivating at the thought of a prize winning turnip.

I'm sure people who grow turnips and other produce take these things very seriously but I wonder what kind of prestige the Gawler Show gives to a prize winning side of bacon?

The on stage entertainment is often a real highlight if you're at the show at the right time. In the case of the Gawler show that's Saturday afternoon and evening.

My partner and I got to the main stage just as local band the Rockin' Sox were getting started. They're a three piece rock trio of boys whose combined ages make them as old as me. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist is 12 years old whilst the drums and base players are both 13.

The Rockin' Sox played mostly covers of popular songs that they really had no business to be playing. For example a 12 year old in 2008 singing Bryan Adams Summer of 69 lacks credibility on every level. How can a 12 year old look back to a time that even I've never seen and sing 'those were the best days of my life'?

They continued in this vein with covers of AC/DC's Jailbreak and Long Way to the Top, Chuck Berry's Johnny Be Good and the Beatles, Hard Days Night (come on - a 12 year old singing 'Hard Days Night').

Despite their song choice, I have to say they played really well to a tough and some what sparse crowd (rain meant that numbers were probably down at the show this year). They were overly optimistic (but undeterred) with their lack of success in their numerous attempts to start some audience participation on various songs.

The highlight of their set was a cover of Lenny Kravitz, Are you gonna go my way. I thought their original song sounded great too even though the main line I could hear said something about 'feeling so alone' (arrgghhh - teenage angst from newbie teens - you shouldn't be depressed and lonely until you're at least fourteen!).

After that there was a puppet show with Funtime puppets which was your traditional Punch and Judy story. It was definitely aimed at the knee high set so we took the opportunity to get some dinner and come back for the main event - The Australian Elvis Show.

Performed by Joe Bikic and his backing band it was loud but good. I wouldn't say it was the ultimate Elvis tribute (as it's promoted) but if you're an Elvis fan I'm sure you'd love it.

Joe is kind of leaning towards the early, few too many cheese burgers Elvis in appearance which kind of reminds you it was all starting to go down hill from there for the great man himself.

It would have been nice to see a version of A Little Less Conversation as part of a tribute show - since it was such a big, recent hit that we'll never see Elvis perform live.

The evening ends on Saturday with the fireworks display. What can be said about fireworks. They're always fun to watch and they never go for long enough. That's very true of Gawler's firework display. It's a short display but a nice way to finish off the night.

2 comments:

  1. This seems to be a bit like the Whyalla Show, which I suppose it would be if it's a country show. It does say Gawler's is the biggest though.

    I had a look at the Gawler Show link and clicked on one or two things. I clicked on the link to see other country shows to see if the Whyalla one was there, and it was on on the 16-17th August.

    I remember when it was only on for one day, but remember when it went into a two day show. I don't suppose you will remember much from this show? It used to be all brown dust underfoot, and as it was usually windy in Whyalla, you came home covered in it - literally!

    I think it was Carl that was in his pram when we went, and I had to wash it all the next day both inside and out. I couldn't get a brush through my hair as there was so much dust in it!

    The next year they put rubber conveyer belting stuff down for people to walk on, as it rained one year and it was muddy, and this made it a bit better, and kept some of the dust down. They had fireworks too. Not sure if the ground got any greener before we left.

    I love sheep dog trials too, and I'd definitely be there if there was some on at a show! I love watching them work too. There used to be a 30mn program on the ABC TV a few years ago showing sheepdog trial competitions, and it was really interesting to see the dog herd the sheep when they had been let out of the pen(a small crowd) around, over, or through all the obstacles in a designated time frame, and the shortest time won with no points off for mistakes.

    There was sometimes an awkward sheep that wouldn't go over the bridge or around or through something, and some dogs had to drop out because of going over the time too much, so no use continuing. The trick was to get one sheep to go and the others would usually follow!

    The owner used to use a high-pitched whistle and instructions to guide the dog through. The dog had to listen and concentrate. Some were really clever, and did it in no time. I think they had to see if they could stay in the series and compete against other dogs and the one to keep winning was the outright winner.

    Not sure if it was a British series as alot of blk & wht border collies were used. It's not on anymore, but it used to be on around 6-30pm on a week-end I think, and I used to tape it. It was when I was with Harry and we both used to watch it back on the tape.

    Would seem a bit weird for those young boys singing about things in the sixties! Sounds a good show, though, and it's somewhere to go in a country town.

    The Perth show will be on in Oct as usual, to co-incide with the school hols usually. I haven't been for years. I prefer to go with someone really, as I've never been on my own to a show.

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  2. I'd say it's similar in size to the Whyalla show. When they talk about being the biggest it includes a lot of different variables - not just attendance or number of rides etc. It doesn't actually feel that much bigger than something like the Kelmscott show.

    Gawler's side show section turns into a bit of a mud pit when it rains (like it did this year) but apart from that it's a very good show (especially if you're like me and not fussed about being amongst the side shows). The main act on the main stage is always worth the show entry ticket price alone.

    I don't mind going to shows on my own - since I really only go for a look around at the art and other displays. You can wander at your own pace etc. Perth has sheep dog trials at their show - so you have to go now!

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