A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

  25 January 2004

Left: Show food spans the generations. Above: Jim Ellis, an exhibitor in the mixed vegetable category arrives early for the judging. And some award winning jam - love that clarity!
Bungendore Show 2004

The Bungendore Agricultural Show is a high point of summer here in Bungendore. Held on the Sunday closest to Australia Day, it's easy to mentally prepare to leave a space in your social calendar. Each year I think that I should take some of our garden produce and enter it. Towards the middle of January, I spend some time thinking there just might be an early tomato ready in the garden, and there's that zucchini that has been in excess for a week or so, and maybe there'd be a ripe plum or two. But it all seems to develop its best much later so I never do. Then each year I look at the wilted and puny offerings on display and think "damn, mine were better than that". (I also think "how come their whatevers are so big and ripe, mine are still green!" but that's another aspect.)

Farmers, backyard gardeners, even frontyard gardeners have been vying for the recognition of their peers at country shows and fairs for a long, long time. "I can grow a bigger pumpkin than you can neighbour". If you're breeding animals or poultry there's pride in having a recognised 'best' and there's money in it if you're selling that breeding stock. I can see that aspect of an Agricultural show but, I've been trying to fix all the other events at our show in a 'country' value context (forgive me, it's what I do).

Historical value is easy, for example the needlework section is the high point of the craft for me, the cross stitch and quilts that aren't just twee commercial patterns, make me feel thankful that there are people still making things of beauty with their hands. I think the kids entries are fun (I watched proud parents bring their children's decorated cakes as they entered their own exquisite delicate sugar floral cake decorations and felt that was right). I laughed (privately) at the purple nudes and lumpy landscapes in the art sections knowing they weren't a true sample of the artistic life in the town and just what showed up on one day in January at the Bungendore show with a 50 cent entry fee.

So there's all this mixed up in the day, and it's so multileveled that I'll probably be plugging away at recording it all, for as many years as I'm here. What I love most is the unselfconscious awkwardness of the community event, with luck that will never change.

Of course there is also professionalism, slickness and finesse. The horse events are a stylised piece of culture with all the artificialities of immaculate grooming and 'dressing up' and a quest for precision and control. That's worth its own record, and some of the sheep/goats/ cattle/poultry just made me stop still in wonder. How beautiful, how strange.  

This year's diary record (there are past show entries in the diary archives) I looked at the food, what we are eating and lamented a bit that in a country area that is becoming 'good food' conscious, how little of that regional produce is for sale at the show. This year there were just a few new faces, the 'Mobile Coffee Cup' stand for the first time offered a good coffee as did the Jindebah Hills coffee growers who had brewed espresso and packs of their products for sale. Hills Honey were new, and had just a card table of their products. I bought a jar.

But that was about it. I think we can do a lot better as a display and marketplace for local growers and still keep what's charming about the event. Just like those showbags at right, a country show like ours is made up of old and new, some things nostalgic, some tacky but for a one day show I believe there's a near perfect mix.

So, here's a gallery of some of my Bungendore show images to prove it.

It opens in a new window, just give it a few minutes to load the thumbnails. I've tried a new format and tried to keep the images small for slower modems but Macs seem to have trouble with it.

If you like what you see, come along next year, it's the closest Sunday to Australia Day.

PS. This year I did enter something. Some of the jams I've written about at times here in the diary. I had one entry in the 'three different varieties of jam in similar jars' and one in the "one jar of cherry jam". Both got First Prize certificates and the sour cherry jam got a blue ribbon for 'Most Outstanding Exhibit' in the Jams and Preserves category. The judge apparently said she liked the 'clarity' of the entries. I felt a bit upset that she only looked at them and didn't taste. That's why I make it after all, to eat.

(But if wine judges just take a mouthful and spit, how would a jam judge handle tasting two dozen entries. Hmmm, I don't want to think about it.)

You can get a good cuppa at the CWA stand but the Mobile Coffee Cup people did a good business in cappuccinos. What would Beery Hogget say?

Hills honey

Jindebah Hills grown on the coast at Byron Bay and locally roasted ...

Culure shift? I don't know what is in the Yu-Gi-Oh manga showbag but I saw a few walking past. I didn't see anyone with this cowboy one below however.

Which made me wonder, are there still kids who want to grow up to be a cowboy? Who was that masked man?

  Fred Harden 2003 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu

Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden