August 1956. The predictable westerly winds blow fiercely. Excited children and families rush down to side show alley, where sets of mechanical clowns wait for patrons to place ping-pong balls in their wide-open mouths, maybe for a prize.
A gun gallery for shooting moving ducks to win a soft cuddly toy or test your strength wielding a large hammer.
To the small child, the Ekka is like a city with clatter and noise and little streets to be explored.
In a time before every phone was a camera, a professional photographer provides photos for purchase. This is one of the few photos many people get each year.
Down one alley lurks a large tent covered with ghoulish images. The house of horrors. Excited youngsters scream in fright. Macabre masks jump out from hidden corners causing screeches of laughter and fear.
These screams are only deafened by the squeals from the rides in Sideshow Alley, the first of which, a merry-go-round was introduced in 1887. By the 1950s the rides are far more giddy, catering for the thrill seeking youth.
In the 1950s many treats were only available once a year at the Ekka. This added to the expectation.
Caravans selling hot dogs, waffles, toffee-apples, and best of all, fairy-floss, sticky pink or white stuff that attached to your nose.
Lines of people drooling outside the strawberry ice cream van and the Tasmanian Potato Shop, always favourites.
Time to venture up to the main pavilion for sample bags. These bags were free in the 1950s, hence samples.
Today they are show bags and are an expensive and profitable commercial business. Empty bottles could be returned for a refund.
The main arena where the best of country stock was, and still is, paraded for the public. The working dogs impress and at night, the fireworks enchant.
More attractions as the bush shows its best: woodchopping, fruit and vegetables in intricate displays, and the popular wool fashion parades that promote the best of Australian wool.
Not forgetting the dog and cat pavilion where different breeds of puppies and kittens delight young children. Chickens, ducks and geese are also there, showing off their colourful plumage.
Trains provided most transport to the Ekka. The Ekka Special from Central Station was always noisy with anticipation.
Since its beginning in 1876 the RNA show has been cancelled four times: during the Spanish flu in 1919 and World War II in 1942, when the grounds were used to house soldiers. It was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID.
The Ekka was one of the highlights of the year and, during the 1950s, coincided with school holidays.
In a time when there were fewer entertainments and life could not be lived through social media; in a time when anticipation was part of the excitement, children and adults alike looked forward to the time of year the country came to the city. Sixty years on, how we remember the Ekka in all its glory.