The weather is cooling down, the winds are picking up - start preparing for Ekka Time. The 2014 Ekka is held from Friday the 8th to Sunday the 17th August and Wednesday 13th August is the People's Day public holiday.
[ADVERT]Now, I must confess, I did not think I was much of an Ekka fan. But last year we gave in and headed off with four kids in toe.
I am here to give you 10 ways to enjoy the Ekka without breaking the budget and having some real fun along the way.
1. Pre purchase your tickets and sort your transport ahead of time.. You can drive and park, but why not take the hassle out of it and catch public transport in? Gates open each day at 9am and close at 9pm, so if you are wearing comfy shoes and up for it you can get a solid 12 hours of fun for the price of your ticket.
2. Don't spend forever in the Show Bag Pavilion. This is my least favourite part of the Ekka but if you have children, it will be on their Must Do List. To avoid loosing yourself in this huge hole, make sure you have a good idea of what you want ahead of time. You can download the guide to print or download the app and have a look for best value bags. Set a limit of how much to be spent, and/or maximum amount of bags. Have a list of what you want, and back up's in case they are sold out. Some people like to get their showbags first (so they don't miss out on their bags) but I prefer to get them before night sets, and to be flexible in case of Sold Out Bags. This way you are not lugging them around with you all day long.
3. Limit (but don't exclude) Side Show Alley. Yes the rides are fun, and everyone likes the Clowns, but it really is such a small part of the Ekka, and a very costly part at that. Last time we went, we got the kids to get some of their savings from their bank account, and they used that money to pay for their rides. This kept rides to a minimum (and they actually thought about what they would like to do) and gave them an appreciation of value for money. They all did some rides and games, and we did this first up - which worked really well for us. Closer to the time, ride info is posted here.
Here is a tip. If your children get lost at the Ekka make sure you tell them to seek out someone who works there (e.g. a food stall), and make sure they have your phone number/business cards etc in their pocket/a secure place. Do not write their name on them anywhere visible. This strategy worked a treat when our six year old got sidetracked in Sideshow Alley (easy to happen).
The Ferris Wheel is a great way to see the sights of the show-grounds for the whole family.
4. Don't leave the animals until last . The Ekka is famous for bringing the country to the city. Over the ten days (and two weekends) the best of Queensland is on show, which includes more than 10,000 animals; "Animals have always been, and remain, a main attraction at the Ekka with the now famous Animal Nursery stemming back to 1964".
There are so many animals to see and some great (mostly) free fun to be had. Make note of any competitions and events that you want to see as they are scheduled throughout the day. If you are not careful you will miss them on your To Do List.
There is Animal Boulevard, a free attraction where you can get close to hundreds to animals, Farmyard Friends where you can meet and greet over 400 baby animals (and you can feed them for a small fee), The Shearing Shed - watch fleece fly, Little Miracles Newborn Corner where you can witness the miracle of new life, Horse Breeds Expo, Feline, Fish and Puppies Pavilion and much much more.
5. Food Glorious Food. What is an Ekka without a dagwood dog and a strawberry ice-cream? Personally I can do without both and would rather corn on the cob, but each to their own.
If you are looking at save money at the Ekka there are a few tips to try:
Pack some food and drink. Take along water (which you can refill throughout the day), sandwich, fruit and snacks, and buy one meal (e.g. dinner). This way you can still have your Ekka food without getting too ill on junk and without breaking the bank.
You can also hunt for free samples at the massive Woolworth's Pavilion. For those of you who feel like a proper meal try out the Steak House and for those budding chefs out there, make sure you take a trip to the Food and Wine Show Stage for your chance to meet your celeb chef and take home some fresh cooking ideas.
6. Head to the Chill Out Zone. If you and your family needs a place to chill out and unwind, head to these self-contained spaces where kids can engage in some low-energy free activities while parents simply chill.
7. Play all day (or part of the day) and stay all night. Without exception night time at the Ekka is not to be missed. From the monster truck shows, entertainment and the ultimate in fireworks, night time Ekka on the hill is pure, family fun. Remember to rug up and bring your blankets to settle in and enjoy all that is on show.
I haven't been to the Ekka since forever but, after reading your article I am determined to attend this year. You have refreshed my memory of all the things I loved as a kid. I am going to have the strawberry ice cream plus the dagwood dog and try the steak house plus watch the fireworks! Thanks for reminding me of ALL the Ekka is about.
Hello Ekka Brisbane
Been living in the UK since 1974 and use to enjoy going to the Ekka - especially for the Show Bags but the one thing that sticks in my mind that I really enjoyed eating was Popcorn rings covered in caramel. Does anyone know if they still do them. Still an Aussie girl living in Lancashire .........Jenny