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Ekka 2019

Home > Brisbane > Fairs | Gardening | Gardens | Historic Houses | Shows
by Marina Marangos (subscribe)
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Bulls and buttonholes
Behind the scenes (at the Museum).

A flower arrangement
A flower arrangement

Ekka preparations are in full swing as the show sets to open on the 9th of August 2019. A huge amount of work goes into ensuring the horticultural exhibits, the animals and the stalls are ready for the public when the show kicks into action.

"Kicking into action" took on a whole new meaning in 2000. On the Wednesday night before the show, as volunteers and workers were putting the final touches to the displays, a bull escaped from the animal section, ran up Gregory Terrace and straight into the exhibition building where the horticultural show was being set up.

Duncan Sturrock, a beef councillor was in hot pursuit. The bull entered the pavilion and kicked and trampled a lot of the exhibits, destroying a precious cactus, many floral displays and damaging the water supply. The well- known phrase "a bull in a china shop" comes to mind! This certainly led to many workers having "a bee in their bonnet" about that year's show. They went on working all night, with Interflora donating some of the flowers to replace the destroyed displays to enable the show to go on. I wish I had been "a fly on the wall" for that unexpected event but it was over in a flash.

Stubborn Young Hereford being unwillingly lead by his attendant RNA showgrounds 1940 John Oxley State Library archive
Stubborn Young Hereford being unwillingly lead by his attendant RNA showgrounds 1940 John Oxley State Library archive

EKKA's origins go back to the first intercolonial exhibition that was opened on 22nd August 1876 and ran until the 28th. It proved so popular that it became an annual event. The flowers are one of the most popular displays within Ekka. Over the years, the horticultural section has moved from the old wood pavilion, the old Gatton animal display building, the exhibition building (where it met the bull) the commerce building, and now the Old Museum, the iconic building at 480 Gregory Terrace Bowen Hills, Qld 4006.

Some of Ekka's traditions and customs are little known and its wonderful to be able to share one of these today with a wider audience. Back in 1982, Jack Ambler asked Frank Robinson MBE, OAM, the Councillor of the horticultural section to organise some buttonholes for his "ladies," the stewards looking after the fine art section. Frank obliged and the buttonholes were delivered every morning at 9 am.

Preparing the Buttonholes
Preparing the Buttonholes

This elegant addition to the stewards spread to other departments and soon buttonholes became something that Councillors, wives, guests would expect to wear with pride.
Buttonholes ready

To this day, they are carefully crafted and laid out in trays ready for the stewards and the workers to pick them up and wear them as they take their posts by the displays and stands.

A riot of colour
A riot of colour

This year's Horticultural programme, which will be housed in the precinct of the Old Museum, promises plenty. Little Backyard Farmers, teaching kids about urban farming, Floral Crowns which I will be volunteering for, Potted Plants, the Fabulous Queensland Quilts, the RSPCA mobile Education Unit, the lovely School Scarecrow competition as well as Bush Poetry and of course breathtaking floristry displays by many Horticultural Societies and Floristry schools.

To find out more information on what is on offer go to:

Book your tickets now and enjoy some special offers for early birds don't miss the show -
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Why? EKKA is an institution
When: 9th to the 18th August 2019
Where: The RNA showgrounds and the Old Museum in Bowen Hills
Cost: As per website.
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