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We all know about the Royal Adelaide Show in September, and most of us have fond memories of having been there at least once or twice. But how many of us can say that we have been to a South Australian Country Show, an event where the locals get to showcase their traditional and unique wares, and put on a huge party for visitors and residents alike.
This August and September sees 11 regional townships host their own country show, each special in its own little way. From the traditional sideshow rides to the handicrafts to the agricultural displays to the eating halls, these country shows have got something for everyone, with a smaller and country-friendly crowd.
Kicking off this season is the 138th Crystal Brook Show. With a pavilion packed with art and craft, cooking and sewing, home brewing and photography, and proudly boasting the most show rides north of Adelaide, this show promises to be a great opener to the show season.
Showcasing the Community is the motto for which the Kadina Show Committee work by. The Kadina Show was established in 1871 is one of the longest running country shows in SA. Kadina is a highly recommended venue for horse events and attracts top riders to generate an action packed two day show.
There is entertainment galore with well known artists, along with variety of trade sites and a wide range of sideshows for all the family. Saturday caters for the good old fashion 'show day events' while Sunday is a 'Family Fun Day'. Of special interest is the Australia Post mailbox competition, which is worth watching.
Whyalla (15 - 16 August)
Patrons of the Whyalla Show enjoy a weekend of fabulous entertainment, spectacular fireworks, static and moving displays, craft demonstrations and an abundance of fine foods whilst perusing the wares of retail stalls from all over Australia.
This two day show features many stallholders and traders, and numerous food outlets providing a mix of quality and novelty foods. The fireworks on Saturday evening caps off a huge day, where the unusual events include the decorative painting and the woolcraft demonstrations.
One of the larger country shows with over 6000 people in regular attendance, the Port Lincoln Show features live entertainment and bands, special pavilion entries including flowers, vegetables, cookery, childrens hobbies, art, photography, home brew and needlework.
On the main arena, there are numerous horse events over the course of the show while the sideshows and childrens activities continue on centre field. Unusual events include the pets on parade segment, and the annual Miss Showgirl competition.
The Quorn country show has maintained its true country feel despite the recent influx of sideshows and showbags. At Quorn, visitors get to experience some traditional horse events, flowers, produce and craft displays and numerous activities for the younger kids.
Meanwhile the big kids get to hang around some vehicles, a number of which are restored, while many others join in with the popular Ute Muster.
Dog Obedience Trials
Gawler (28-30 August)
SA's largest country show occurs at Gawler traditionally the week before the Royal Show. With many activities, events and sideshows, the Gawler Show is the precursor to the real event a week later, but without the crowds.
Showbags also make an appearance at this show, as does the ever-popular sideshow alley games and rides. Other favourites include the woodchopping, tractor displays and more display animals than at any other country show.
Wudinna (19 September)
Located in the Wudinna Showgrounds, this small show amongst locals includes cooking and produce displays, handicrafts, equestrian events and the ever popular CWA Laucke Scone Competition. There are also some uniquely country events that haven't yet been given a name !
The Wilmington Show is yet another one of the smaller shows and again featuring some activities unique to the area and the locals. The Draaiorgel (Dutch Organ on Wheels) will make another appearance, as will whipcracking, horses, pet displays and the evergreen Landrover display.
Wilmington Toy Museum
Murray Bridge (25-26 September)
Starting after work on the Friday night, the Murray Bridge Show has a day and a half of activities and fun. The flashing lights of the twilight showrides are matched the next day with a number of displays of heritage agricultural equipment amongst all the regular and usual attractions.
Hot on the heels of the popular horse race, the Balaklava Show follows up with lots of craft selling sites, a Balaklava museum and horses in action. Special events at this show include the scarecrow competition.
With an intention of celebrating small town ingenuity, the Kimba Show is home-grown, home-made and home-engineered. Special events at the show include the young farmers challenge, the Kimba dash, the sport shearing competition and the handmade market food court.
All country shows have an entrance fee of around $8 to $10 per adult ($15 at Gawler) or $25 for a family. If you are looking for some true country fun and camaraderie, these shows are well worth a visit if you are local or travelling through one of these towns on Show Day.