BNE July/August 2016 |
will commute to his home base on the Gold
Coast for some rare “home time”. For others, their
home is their caravan.
It takes the Osbornes about 10 days to set up
and do the preparation for Ekka which might
include a new coat of paint for some of the rides
so that everything is spick and span for one of
their biggest shows of the year.
“Ekka is unlike any other show in the country
and I think it’s because of the Queensland people.
Ekka is one of the most family-oriented shows
in the country. It’s got a feeling that you can’t
put your finger on that is different to any other
show. We’ve always loved it. Just the word itself is
unique. There isn’t another show like it.”
Mother of two Karen Maguire has been a
‘show girl’ since her school days. Growing up
in Caboolture “when it was the bush” Maguire
would be at Ekka every year in her school days
showing cattle. “We were able to sleep there for
the week,” says the ebullient Maguire.
However, she’s competing in a very different
category now. “When I was in my 20s I was
still going to Ekka every year with a bunch of
girlfriends and one day we looked at the cakes and
I thought ‘I can make a banana cake like that’ and
that’s where it started. I entered the next year and
I’ve been entering since then for about 16 years. It
took me 10 years to get a blue ribbon,” she says.
In the early days Maguire would make
multiple cakes and take them to work to get
people to try them to perfect her recipe. “I
used to lie on the floor with my Ugg boots on
and pressed up against the oven door to keep it
closed,” she laughs.
These days she’s not quite so pedantic but
banana cake is still her specialty and she’s won
many more ribbons, but now she has some
competition in her own household. Son Charlie
has won blue ribbons two years in a row – the first
two years he has entered – for his Anzac biscuits
in the Under 11 age group. This year Maguire’s
daughter Morgan, 6, will be entering for the
first time too, making Anzacs and decorated
Arrowroot biscuits. Charlie is adding a marble
cake to his repertoire this year and Maguire is
entering more cakes than ever, presenting her
banana cake, a carrot cake, madeira cake, date roll
(which she won in the novice class last year), tea
cake and a chocolate loaf she is entering in the
Maguire admits she loves baking but she also
loves Ekka which is why she keeps going and
now the kids like it there’s extra incentive to
continue, but there’s a more serious reason for her
enthusiasm as well. “If we don’t keep doing it, it
will die. If the next generation doesn’t carry it on
it may not be there one day and so many people
get pleasure going through the pavilion looking at
the cakes and jams and other things.”
Maguire loves a chat and doesn’t mind
mingling with viewers to canvas comments about
her cakes and others on display. She admits it’s
a thrill to see her cake in the display window
with her name and a ribbon on it but that’s not
the only reason she likes being part of the Ekka
experience. “I like how the country comes to the
city. I’m from the country so I think it’s good for
the kids to interact with the farmers – last year
Charlie learnt to milk a cow, they’ve seen baby
animals born there, they know what part of the
cow a t-bone comes from. They can learn a lot
there,” she says.
Champion Chihuahua breeder Jennifer Watt is
also a veteran of Ekka, going first with her parents
before she was 10, but she didn’t start showing
dogs there until she turned 10, the minimum
age to compete at the time. This year the breeder
of 17 national champions will be showing up to
eight dogs at the Queensland show.
For Watt entering shows is a labour of love as
there’s little, if any, prizemoney in competitions.
Nevertheless she spends several hours a day
preparing her dogs for their shows – she attends
up to three a weekend and has a caravan that
her husband has customised to house the dogs
while they are travelling – and that can be from
Gladstone in Queensland to Newcastle in NSW
as well as the capital city shows.
Barnsy is her pride and joy and she has been
showing him since he was three months old. He’s
a natural and has more than 100 prizes to prove it.
“He’s the ultimate show dog,” says a proud Watt.
“He forever wants to show. He loves the limelight.
Every show I take him to he’s looking around,
jumping up and down, playing ball. He never
lets me down,” she says. Watt will be showing
over three days at Ekka this year and while she
likes to try to see other things she never leaves
her dogs unattended. If she gets a chance she also
volunteers on the Dogs Queensland stand to talk
to people about pure breed dogs.
Like Osborne and Maguire, Watt loves the
atmosphere at Ekka. “Everybody’s there to have a
good time, that’s what makes it special,” she says
and there’s one thing she makes sure she doesn’t
miss – the strawberries and cream, an Ekka
Ekka is on 5-14 August at Brisbane Showgrounds,
Bowen Hills. For details seewww.ekka.com.au
Ekka is Queensland’s favourite show
and it’s the people who make it. For
some it’s their life.
uncovers some of the hidden gems