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Royal Queensland Show
Sideshow Alley viewed at dusk from the John MacDonald stand
GenreAgricultural Show
Location(s)Brisbane, Australia
Years active141
Previous event11-20 August 2017
Next event10-19 August 2018
Organised byThe Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA)

The Ekka is the annual agricultural show of Queensland, Australia. Its formal title is the Royal Queensland Show, and it is held at the Brisbane Showgrounds. It was originally called the Brisbane Exhibition, but it is more commonly known as the "Ekka", short for "exhibition". It is run by The Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland.

The Ekka is Queensland's largest annual event, which welcomes an average of 400,000 visitors each August.[1] The show welcomes 21,000 competition entries, 10,000 animals, a smorgasbord of award-winning food and wine and hours of free family entertainment, including the spectacular night program. The Ekka features a sideshow alley, showbag pavilion, and nightly fireworks displays. In 2018, the Ekka will be held from 10–19 August.

The significance of the first exhibition held in 1876 was described by locals as the most important event since the separation of Queensland from New South Wales in 1859.[2]

In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Ekka was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as an "event and festival".[3]


The first show, held between 22–26 August 1876, attracted 17,000 visitors.[4] The centrepiece of the grounds was the timber exhibition building which housed 1,700 individual exhibits in total.[2] One of the first popular attractions was a timber bridge built by saw-miller William Pettigrew. The show was a spin-off from the famous International Exhibitions being held in Britain and worldwide dating from the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851.

A new grandstand designed by Claude William Chambers was open for the 1906 show.[5] It was later named the John Macdonald stand in recognition of a long-serving member of the Royal National Association. In 1920, the show was visited by the Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VIII) who was asked and gave permission for the name of the association to change to the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland.[5]

During a time when the Ekka was still young, the main purpose of the agricultural show, as its name suggests, was to show off many agricultural and industrial exhibits. It was a chance for people to show off newly invented agricultural and industrial devices such as ultra modern ploughing, sowing and harvesting artefacts. Cattle and other farm animals were also exhibited during the show, a practice that remains to this day. The Animal Nursery, which has been running since 1964, features around 500 baby farmyard animals for visitors to meet and greet. Since its opening, the show has only been cancelled twice,[5] in 1919 throughout the time of the Spanish flu pandemic, where the grounds were employed as temporary hospital wards for the sick, and in 1942, due to World War II.


The Ekka is held in Queensland's capital city, Brisbane, for 10 days each August at the Brisbane Showgrounds in the suburb of Bowen Hills. The Ekka is run by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA). The Ekka is Brisbane's most popular event of any sort, with around 400,000 visitors attending the show in recent years.[1]

The showgrounds covers an area of 22 hectares.[5]

During Ekka, the Exhibition railway line is operational with special trains (some of them historic steam trains) carrying passengers to the Exhibition railway station in the middle of the Brisbane Showgrounds.


Chocolate Wheel at the Ambulance stall, Exhibition Ground, Brisbane, 1938.
Farrier competition, Ekka, Brisbane, 2015
Cake decorating competition with traditional and novelty designs, Ekka, Brisbane, 2015

Attractions at the Ekka include fairground rides, a Side Show Alley, animal parades, woodchopping competitions, agricultural displays and equestrian events. The food includes typical fair favourites like Fairy floss, Pluto pups, burgers and hot chips, but it also features award-winning gourmet foods and traditional recipes from the Country Women's Association.

A particular Ekka favourite is the iconic Strawberry Sundae,[6] a fundraising initiative of the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.

Sideshow Alley in particular has been an integral part of the Ekka. Back in the earlier years of the show, Sideshow Alley was a place for people to witness actual sideshows, such as freaks of nature, people carrying out superhuman feats of strength and illusionists performing for delighted audiences.

Showbags are also an integral part of the Ekka experience. Usually containing food items (such as confectionery and novelty items), showbags are sold in the Showbag Pavilion. The contents of the showbags are tested to ensure they comply with safety standards.[7] In 2015, there were 362 different showbags available for visitors to spend their money on and enjoy samples of products. Showbags range from $1, $2 (the famous Bertie Beetle Bag) and up to $108, providing companies the opportunity to offer their merchandise to the public at discounted prices.[8]

Competitions remain at the heart of the Ekka. Since the very first show in 1876, the Ekka has been rewarding and recognising those dedicated to producing the best of the best. The competitions include agricultural products such as livestock, fruit and vegetables, and skills in areas as diverse as farriery and cake decorating.[9][10]


The Ekka, due to its large attendance, raises a large amount of revenue. Estimates of this number average around the $100 million mark, yet this amount may fluctuate with weather in Brisbane at the time (a particularly wet August may reduce attendance significantly). [11]

Because of the cultural significance of the Ekka, the City of Brisbane holds a Wednesday public holiday known as "People's Day". The Ekka starts on the first Friday in August, except if the first Friday is before 5 August, in which case it starts on the second Friday of August. People's Day is then the Wednesday after the Ekka commences.[12]

The Ekka is known as Queensland's largest classroom, with schools often organising excursions for students so they can learn about agriculture and the essential role it plays in their lives.

Ekka Winds[edit]

Frequently, in the week leading up to the Ekka, the chilly 'Ekka winds' descend on Brisbane. These are westerly winds caused by high pressure systems in the Great Australian Bight.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Ekka attracts 400,000 visitors for the third year". Queensland Country Life. 20 August 2012. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b Scott, Joanne; Ross Laurie (2008). Showtime: A history of the Brisbane Exhibition. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press. pp. 1–4. ISBN 9780702236587.
  3. ^ Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  4. ^ Mirosch, Natascha. "Ekka food offers a taste of history and source of nostalgia". The Courier-Mail. Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d Gregory, Helen; Dianne Mclay (2010). Building Brisbane's History: Structure, Sculptures, Stories and Secrets. Warriewood, New South Wales: Woodslane Press. pp. 164–170. ISBN 9781921606199.
  6. ^ "Ekka's Famous Sundaes Chalk Up Milestone". Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  7. ^ Witham, Katrina. "Dangerous toy recalled from Ekka showbag". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 4 August 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008.
  8. ^ "Ekka 2015: Full list of showbags". Courier-Mail. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Farriers & Blacksmiths" (PDF). Royal Queensland Show. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Cookery" (PDF). Royal Queensland Show. 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Crawford, Fiona (10 August 2007). "Ekka Flu". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Public holidays". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 25 July 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  13. ^ "One key difference at this year's show". Retrieved 8 August 2017.

External links[edit]