Thursday, October 21, 2010

On With the Show

I knew something was off today. Here it was a Thursday, but there were kids all over the neighborhood in the middle of the school day. I may have been down here only 10 weeks, but I am now a professional retired person with his very own Seniors Card. I know when things on the block aren't going the way they normally do.

And because I am an official retired person, I needed to know why.

Now, the kids were not a problem, but every time I looked up from the baseball playoff games, there they were skateboarding or kicking a ball or just rolling on the grass. LK and I figured there was some sort of school holiday, but then we started seeing the grown-ups. They were out in shorts and t-shirts mowing lawns, washing cards and all sorts of other things that have us convinced that Tasmanians don't seem to know the difference between spring and summer.

Something was definitely going on, and we needed to know what it was.

So to Google we went to solve the mystery, and two clicks of the mouse later we had our answer. Today was Royal Hobart Show Day.  Occurring every year on the "Thursday before the fourth Saturday of October" (I won't even try to figure that out), the Royal Hobart Show Day is a holiday for all of Tasmania "south of Oatlands and Swansea", except for the west coast.

And it is, obviously, a holiday to celebrate the start of the Royal Hobart Show. LK looked this up and it is a four-day fair run by the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania to celebrate rural Australia. I am used to these sort of things happening at the end of the growing season so everyone can marvel at the biggest pumpkin or the longest cucumber, but I guess having it at the beginning of the warmer weather makes it kind of a kick-off party. And it has the added benefit that our farmers won't have any competitive pressure on them during the harvest.

We considered going to the event, if you can call a 30-second conversation giving it our consideration.

Basically the conversation was:
DK: What do they have there?
LK: Livestock judging, wood chopping, and rural youth boot throwing.
DK: Wanna go?
LK: No

I didn't disagree. Sure, if you were next door you would drop by to watch the alpaca judging, but I wouldn't want to sit through the judging for cattle, pigs, dogs, lamb, cats, rabbits and poultry that were also on the schedule. Wood chopping didn't seem exciting enough to justify the drive to Glenorchy.

But I must admit, there was some temptation to check out the Rural Youth Boot Throwing competition. Partly, I admit, because Rural Youth sounds like Rural Juror, that great title in 30 Rock. But mostly because I have never seen a boot throwing competition, and given all the stuff I've been watching on TV, it surely wasn't going to be the worst thing I've looked at this week.

These fairs that bring the country folks into the city to celebrate their work always seem to be great occasions. I go back to the Rutland Fair when I was little, and the New York State Fair in Syracuse when I was in my teens. Loved them.

We never made the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, but by that stage in our lives, neither one of us could stand the thought of crowds and queues and parking two miles away.

So I do appreciate the enthusiasm Tassie has for its agricultural shows, and it's as good a reason for a public holiday as any I've thought of. But it did occur to me that it's a good thing this boot throwing contest is happening here in Tassie. If it were in Sydney, you could just about predict that some suburban lawyer mother would sue so her city brat could compete and throw his boots, too. Even if she had to buy them for him the weekend before the show.

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