We have lived in Broken Hill for over three years and this evening we finally went to the Silver City Show.
As a kid I used to go to the Spring Festival celebrations in Cornwall with roots firmly entwined through the local farming community and ancient Pagan fertility rites. The farming families showing off their skills and creativity combined with the excitement of the youngsters at the cornucopia of things to eat, see and do is a lovely thing which has gone by the wayside as we have all become more urbanised.
When I first immigrated into Brisbane I remember going to the Ekka and learned of the Aussie traditions of Show Bags, Dagwood dogs and the Agricultural exhibitions. The transposition of these old traditional festivities to such a foreign land seemed so odd to me. The Silver City Show was no exception.
The exhibition pavillion was set out in what was formerly the roller skating rink. The works on display were equal parts daggy and lovely - dozens of Christmas cakes with snowmen (Snowmen, Christmas?! It’s September and we live in the Australian Outback … snow!) and reindeers; pots of jam; paintings of outback sunsets and starry nights; a brilliant scale replica of a ship and my favourite, a massive hunchbacked metal Dalek clumsily welded together like it was a bit of farm machinery. Everything was behind mesh fencing like it was dangerous to approach.
Outside of the pavillion we wandered through Side Show Alley and ended up watching a trial-bike rider called El Jay talking to recordings of himself pretending to be other show characters. It reminded me of Daniel Dafoe arguing with his two alter egos Norman Osborn & the Green Goblin in 2002’s Spider-man. El Jay had three personas, himself, Reggie and Randy. Listening to him arguing with his personas was, unlike his bike skills, unbalanced.
People-watching is a popular sport and The Show provides the ground. The stall holders have a particular look of exhausted desparation about them. Seppo’s like to call them Carnies, I’m subverting that here to Showies. Giving a name to any group of people is essential for discussion but often quickly becomes a horrible thing to do. Many of the Showies have physical signs of lives lived to the full - skinny or obese toothless bodies. I wondered at the decisions made by and for the Showies to end up here tonight - family histories, social economics, drug and alcohol habits and other obvious conjectures. At the end of 4 days of 12 hour shifts I was impressed they still had the energy to successfully charm us to spend our money. They did though.
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