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For other uses, see Ekka (disambiguation).
Royal Queensland Show
Sideshow Alley viewed at dusk from the John MacDonald Stand
Genre Agricultural Show
Frequency Annual
Location(s) Brisbane, Australia
Years active 138
Inaugurated 1876
Previous event 5-14 August 2016
Next event 11-20 August 2017
Attendance ~500,000
Organised by The 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 is held at the Brisbane Showgrounds. It was originally called the Brisbane Exhibition, however it is commonly called the Ekka, which is a shortening of the word exhibition. It is run by The Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland.

The Ekka is Queensland's largest annual event with recent shows drawing almost 500,000 visitors.[1] It aims to showcase Queensland culture, produce, resources and initiatives. This is done through a range of competitions, award ceremonies, exhibits, educational displays, animal and performances. There is a sideshow alley, showbag pavilion, numerous food and beverage outlets and a range of entertainment including nightly fireworks displays. It typically starts on a Friday in August and continues for 10 days to close on a Sunday.

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]


The first show, held between 22–26 August 1876, attracted 17,000 visitors.[3] 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.[4] 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 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.[4]

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 artifacts. Cattle and other farm animals were also exhibited during the show, a practice that remains to this day, the animal nursery is still a place for children and adults alike to go and witness all the baby animals in all their glory. Since its opening, the show has only been cancelled twice,[4] in 1919 throughout the time of the Spanish flu pandemic, during this time, 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 ten days each August at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground. The Ekka is organised by the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA), and is held at the RNA Showgrounds in the inner-city suburb of Bowen Hills approximately two kilometres north-east of Brisbane's city centre. The Ekka is Brisbane's most popular event of any sort, with well over 400,000 visitors attending the show in recent years.[1]

The showgrounds cover an area of 22 hectares.[4] The Ernest Baynes Stand provided seating for 5,000 people with further standing room for 2,000 more. Pavilions were designed and built specifically for sheep, pig and poultry as well as dog and horses in the 1920s and 1930s.[4]

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 Exhibition Grounds. There is also support for transporting livestock to the Ekka by train.


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 snacks like Fairy floss, Pluto pups, burgers and hot chips, but there is also an International Food Hall featuring award-winning artisanal products and traditional recipes from the Country Women's Association.

A particular Ekka favourite is the Strawberry Sundae,[5] a fundraising initiative of the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.

Side Show Alley in particular has been an integral part of the Ekka, however back in the earlier years of the Ekka, side show 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 content of the showbags are tested to ensure they comply with safety standards.[6] 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.[7]

Competitions are held as part of the Ekka; these include agricultural products such as livestock, fruit and vegetables, and skills in areas as diverse as farriery and cake decorating.[8][9]


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). [10]

Because of the cultural significance of the Ekka, the city of Brisbane holds a public holiday on the seventh show day which is known as "People's Day". People's Day is usually on the second Wednesday of August except when there are five Wednesdays in August, when it is held on the third Wednesday.[11] School students are also involved in the entertainment of the Ekka, often schools organise excursions for students in their school band or choir where they perform and represent their school, one such including the Urban Upbeat Festival, which showcases school's musical ensembles.[12] Other South East Queensland local government areas hold public holidays for the Ekka on the Monday or Tuesday (the 5th and 6th days).


  1. ^ a b "Ekka attracts 400,000 visitors for the third year". Queensland Country Life. 20 August 2012. 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. ^ Mirosch, Natascha. "Ekka food offers a taste of history and source of nostalgia". The Courier-Mail. Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  4. ^ a b c d e 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. 
  5. ^ "Ekka's Famous Sundaes Chalk Up Milestone". Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  6. ^ Witham, Katrina. "Dangerous toy recalled from Ekka showbag". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on August 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  7. ^ "Ekka 2015: Full list of showbags". Courier-Mail. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Farriers & Blacksmiths" (PDF). Royal Queensland Show. 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Cookery" (PDF). Royal Queensland Show. 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Crawford, Fiona (10 Aug 2007). "Ekka Flu". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Royal National Agricultural Show Day Queensland in Australia. Time and Date. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Allans Music + Billy Hyde's Urban Upbeat". Retrieved 2010-08-12. 

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