8 hours of fun: how to do The Royal Easter Show with a family on a budget!

So yesterday, Good Friday, we embarked on a major family outing to The Royal Easter Show. I wish I can say I was excited but I would be as busy convincing myself as fooling you. Four kids at a massive site with masses of people and no money to spend was a very tall order to equate with any form of enjoyment but the kids’ excitement was vaguely intoxicating.

We had a family briefing once everyone was in the car and strapped in – you know, a captive audience if you will. We talked about how exciting it was going to be but that we were going there to experience the true essence of what the Show was about – bringing the country to the city – and not about spending masses of money on crap food, exorbitant rides and hundreds of showbags. We already have a family rule that you are allowed one more expensive showbag and one cheapy one but this had to be revisited for the benefit of the littler guys. Felix looked despondent at the mentioning of not spending money on rides but we clarified saying that we could go on some but not many. Two I believe was the number bandied around.

You know that Larsson cartoon where the man is talking to the dog and all the dog hears is blah blah blah name blah blah blah. My kids. Except it was blah blah blah showbags blahblahblah.

Chef and I knew the day could go radically pear-shaped in a matter of seconds so had a pact that we were just going to take it easy, stop and rest a lot and just go with the flow.

We planned to arrive at 9 so naturally got there at 11.15. We would have gone the bus option but knowing the state the children would be in by the end of the day we cut our loses and drove. This was the first lucky strike as while the website and the girl on the phone had indicated there was a parking flat rate when we showed them Oscar’s mobility parking permit it was $10 instead of $20.

This year there was a shuttle bus from the carpark too, instead of the 10 minute hike. Nice.

So the requests for food and expressions of hunger started fairly quickly. But the little boys, oh, to see the faces on the little fellas seeing all the action and atmosphere – priceless.

And that’s the thing. The Show is all about the sights and sounds and the crazy melange of people you get in one space. Seriously. It’s like a technicolour vomit of humanity. From the dagwood dogs (perhaps the greatest crime against arteries) to the carnies (if I confessed the amount of time I worried about these people you would roll your eyes so hard they’d fall out of your head) to the cockies (it has been SO long since I’ve seen women wearing Liberty blouses with the collar up, a fob chain and RM Williams without a hint of irony) to the totally strung out families it is probably a good thing this only happens once a year.

– the woodchop: aka hope for the morbidly obese to be lauded as sporting heroes
– the HUGE crowd for Robosaurus largely dispersing when it was only halfway through its car-eating performance. I mean, at the end of the day, a trussed up crane is just a trussed up crane.
– my boobs still aching after seeing the poor mama pig’s nipples.
– dairy cows
– Jasper getting to give a lamb a bottle – his one hope for the whole show
– only losing one child (Oscar) and only for about 3 minutes
– the minimal whinging
– my boys in the showbag pavilion. They were allowed two bags but on receiving their first one being totally satisfied and not wanting any more. So proud.

And the financial damage?
Parking: $10
Entry: $99
Ride: $20 (YUP, each boy, $5, for a ride on a miniature train.) (By the time we got to the rides Felix’s need/desire to go on them had passed.)
Fairy Floss for five: $20 (YES, that is not a typo)
Shaved Ices for four: $14
Ice creams for four: $24
Showbags for five (+ box of choccies for Grandmama): $92

We took all our drinks, breadrolls, packets of chips, muesli bars, watermelon, strawberries, apples. If we hadn’t I can’t imagine us having escaped the day spending less than $600. Horrifying.

And look, you didn’t think I would let the fact I was with five of the male species we wouldn’t get to the Arts & Craft pavilion? What I love most is that after the initial eye-rolling they were captivated by it all, particularly the cake decorating. And Felix wants to enter some of his baking in next year’s show.