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BNE July/August 2016 |

9

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

novice class.

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

tradition.

Ekka is on 5-14 August at Brisbane Showgrounds,

Bowen Hills. For details see

www.ekka.com.au

Ekka is Queensland’s favourite show

and it’s the people who make it. For

some it’s their life.

Heather McWhinnie

uncovers some of the hidden gems