Costin plans to bring his seven-year-old daughter. “She gets this incredible experience of not only the sugar rush of showbags and rides, but also seeing a concert,” he said.
Jenkins said that despite the show’s changing face, its agricultural core remained, with around 10,000 animals arriving for livestock, equestrian and dog competitions – all under strict biosecurity protocols following this year’s foot-and-mouth scare.
“The show is still highly regarded [by farmers]not just winning a Melbourne royal blue ribbon, which is important from a commercial point of view, but it’s the social aspect: getting away from the farm, having a break, catching up with friends,” Jenkins said.
Third generation sheep farmer Doug Deppeler, from Derrinalum in western Victoria, has competed in the show for around 50 years.
Deppeler said its importance to farmers had diminished with the rise of regional shows and the internet, but the Melbourne show ring “is still our shop window where we display our sheep to the public”.
He said he was sure the competition would be tough during the judging of all breeds of sheep on Thursday and Friday.
Lyndsey Douglas, a show caller for the equestrian events, said the Melbourne Royal show continued to educate people about food production while becoming “more and more Melbourne in a great way”. This year’s event even features a faux laneway with street art and coffee.
“It will always be country because ag [agricultural] Shows are at the heart, but you also have to have things that make Melbourne people love every second of it,” Douglas said.
“We’re going into our food, we’re going into our music. We’re celebrating what this state is about. It’s got a really cool festival vibe on top of the farm vibe.”
The National Women’s Association members are delighted to be back on the showground baking their famous scones, which they have been doing for around 80 years.
“It’s our main fundraiser, so it’s very, very important,” said Lyn Harris, a past state president of the organization.
While the event has been revamped, Harris said, “We’re still the same.” The women are aiming to beat 2019’s 15,565 scones.
Caitlin Bailey remembers loving showbags and rides as a child and is excited to make new memories with her daughter, two-year-old Thea.
“A lot of it is pretty reminiscent of when we were kids, so she’ll have some of the same experiences we had,” Bailey said.
Tickets must be purchased online and Thursday is already sold out. Adult tickets are $45 and children under 15 get in free.
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