Royal Adelaide Show

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Royal Adelaide Show
Atrium, royal adelaide showgrounds.jpg
The Atrium, Adelaide Showground
GenreAgricultural show
BeginsFirst Friday of September
EndsMid September
Location(s)Adelaide Showground, Wayville, South Australia, Australia
Years active170
Organised byRoyal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of South Australia

The Royal Adelaide Show (colloquially known simply as the Royal Show) is an annual agricultural show run by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia. The Show always begins on the first Friday of September and runs for 10 days since 2014. It runs for 9 days until 2013. In 2018, it starts on the last day of August instead of the first Friday of September.

It is held at the Adelaide Showground, located in Wayville, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia and is attended by up to half a million people every year, making it the State's biggest event.

Core to the Royal Adelaide Show are the competitive entries, such as livestock, art & craft, food & wine, photography and much more. The Royal Adelaide Show features entries from 63 competitive sections, attracting over 30,000 entries annually.

In addition, the Royal Adelaide Show features entertainment, exhibitors, sideshows, rides and showbags.



The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society was established in 1839. The first four shows were held in a pub yard before moving to the current site. [1].


In 1856 the society held its first art exhibition. There were one hundred and seventy eight entries, with thirty being from the well-known artist S. T. Gill. [2]


In the evening the locale of the Show presented a picturesque aspect as viewed from Adelaide. The brilliantly lighted windows of the hall, the grand illumination effected in the booth over which the proprietor of the Tivoli presided, and the various lesser lights – stationary and movable – united to form an interesting spectacle. A nearer approach to the scene of commotion tended somewhat to dissipate the sense of beauty, as clouds of dust and smoke invested the whole of the grounds. However, the crowd of persons, the number of vehicles, and the miscellaneous noise gave a smack of excitement to the affair, which enabled the visitor to overlook some of the attendant discomforts. The total proceeds taken at the gates amounted to £150 11s 10d. A special Grand General Show was held from Thursday 7 November 1867 to coincide with the Adelaide visit of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.[3]


The Autumn Show of 1890 was held on the 6 & 7 March in the Society’s Buildings and Grounds, and was one of the largest ever held in the colony. The first day was unfortunately very wet, but the second, on which a trial of horses and ponies in action and a jumping contest was held, proved very successful, the weather being most suitable, and the attendance of the public was extremely good.

1915 to 1920s[edit]

There were no Shows held in 1915 due to the effects of WWI.

The competition for best design for the new showgrounds drew fifty responses and twenty six firm designs. Mr C R Heath's design was awarded first prize of £500. Designs came from New Zealand, England and all Australian States. The Building Committee, consisting of the President and Vice-Presidents and the Secretary, was appointed to supervise the work and confer with the architects and to report to the Executive. A railway siding was negotiated with the Railway Department, drainage and sewerage problems addressed, negotiations initiated with the Tramways Trust for an 'electric car' service, grading and levelling planned, and tenders called for erection of facilities. A fine draught horse pavilion has been erected and the building of a sheep pavilion commenced.


Adelaide Showground, 1947

No Shows were held between 1940 and 1946, (with the exception of a Wine Show in 1946) due to WWII and the Military occupation of the grounds. Plans were in place for the 1940 Show but were cancelled mid-June.

At the meeting of the Executive held 3/7/1940, the President (Sir Walter Duncan) reported that he had been invited by the Federal Government to accept the Chairmanship of the business committee in connection with Defence Administration. He advised that it might be helpful if the Society made the services of the Secretary (Mr Harold Finnis) and a typist available to the organization.

1960s to 1980s[edit]

Introduced were new sections for the blind and disabled, plus an additional four classes in the knitting and crochet section for the over 70's.

Main Arena attractions included the Pacific Islands Regiment Band, which consisted of 75 Papuans and New Guineans from all parts of the territory. They joined with the Royal Australian Navy Band, the Band of the Southern Command, the Band of the Central Command, and the SA Police Band, for a massed band display.

A soccer match between traditional rivals Hellas and Juventus on the opening night of the Show created much interest. Another area of interest was the Decimal Currency Board's display, with the 'Dollar Girls' on hand to explain the new monetary system to be introduced in February 1966.

1990 to present[edit]

The Administration office was completely transformed into a modern functional office space and the Council area on the first floor upgraded. The NW sector and sideshow area redevelopment was completed with the installation of underground drainage, the construction of new roads and the formation of white graveled exhibition bays which double as a car parking area out of Show time. The area is now proclaimed by the operators to be one of the most functional sideshow areas in Australia. The underground high voltage power system was extended and there were improvements in and around the Dog Pavilion. Work began on the redevelopment of the eastern Kingsway. A sum of $1.3 million was expended on capital improvements during 1990.

The Director, GT Campbell and the President, DW Barkley AM, attended a conference of the Royal Agricultural Societies of the Commonwealth held at Peterborough, England and visited the Royal Show of England. Mr Campbell also visited exhibition facilities in Frankfurt, Munich, Paris and Copenhagen.


Champion Berkshire Boar, 2005

There are a number of competitions the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia run at the Show. Animals exhibited at the Show include:



One of the most notable and well known aspects about the Show are the Showbags. They are usually bags that are sold in the Showbag Pavilion next to the Main Arena, and are mainly promotion for the companies that produce the products contained within the bag, although some Showbags contain a variety of products that are made by various companies.

Showbags originally started as a free sample bag that were given to visitors at the Show. As the original Showbags grew in popularity, they eventually ceased to be free and a small fee of threepence or sixpence applied to those who wished to have one.

Nowadays, a single Showbag can range from $1 to $40 depending on its contents and the company promoting it. The Showbags are mostly popular with young children and teenagers although there are some more contemporary showbags such as the Charlesworth Nuts and Darrell Lea Chocolates aimed at an adult market. The showbags range from things such as toys, magazines, and food.


The rides are draw card at the show, many attending for the single purpose of them. Each year boasts over 50 rides between the Carnival (Family and Thrillseeker) and Kid's Carnival (Children's area.) The Kid's Carnival also includes a stage featuring children's performances from acts such as The Wiggles, Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol. Some larger rides in the main carnival range in price from $8 to $20 (Speed 2 and Beast.) However most rides average at $10 with two for ones and discounts throughout the show on select rides. The best known ride at the show is the Ferris wheel standing over 40 meters high. Each year rides can vary with some favourites going and new modern rides appearing. In 2017 'The Beast' made its first appearance.

On the last day of the 2007 Show, the "Mad Mouse" roller coaster was retired from service. The track was dismantled, the cars auctioned off (one donated to the Royal Show's archives). It has been replaced with a large roller coaster, "The Big Dipper", imported from Italy. It features steep climbs and drops, as well a loop. It was very popular at the 2008 show, drawing record crowds.


In 2017 the main carnival underwent a major facelift with new paving, walkways, grass areas, toilets, bins and trees being added to replace the gravel and portable toilets.

In 2004, 'The Wine Tunnel' was introduced to showcase South Australia's Wines. There are tastings at The Wine Tunnel, which is located in the Taste SA area, which also has cooking demonstrations and food samplings. The Wine Tunnel is generally popular with over 35s but younger adults also attend.

Ride Accidents[edit]

In 2000, the 'Spin Dragon' collapsed, injuring around 40 people,[4] whilst in 2006, part of the 'Twin Flip' ride collapsed.[5]

On 12 September 2014, an eight-year-old girl died after slipping from her seat on the Airmaxx 360. The ride was cordoned off and shut down for inspection immediately after. It had operated at the Queensland show weeks before without incident and underwent daily checks by operators.[6]


A major draw-card to the Royal Adelaide Show is the array of free entertainment included upon entry.

There are 3 main stages at The Show, being the Kid's Corner, Goyder Stage and the Golden North Ice Cream Stage (Coca-Cola Stage until 2017).

The Kid's Corner is located in the Kid's Carnival area (Goyder Plaza) and hosts musical and comedic entertainment for a younger audience.

Goyder Stage is host to the Royal Adelaide Show's major Production (Tinker Tailor Fashion Maker in 2014; The Magical Gift of Mother Earth in 2015), which attracts an audience of hundreds for every performance.

The Golden North Ice Cream Stage is located centrally at the end of Hamilton Boulevard and hosts a range of world-class performances including the dance, music and talent entertainment. The old stage (Coca-Cola Stage) was retired in 2016 to be replaced by a new, purpose built stage.

Main Arena[edit]

The Main Arena is the largest area of Adelaide Showground, and is the primary location for the 'Horses in Action' program (including the World Cup Qualifiers). In the evening, the Main Arena features family entertainment, including V8 utes, Motorcross, Monster Trucks and more.

Every night of the show at 9 pm (weather permitting), fireworks are released from the main arena, with a display for around 10 minutes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ "The Grand General Show". South Australian Register. XXXI, (6573). South Australia. 28 November 1867. p. 4 (Supplement to the South Australian Register.). Retrieved 1 October 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Collapse of the Spin Dragon in 2000
  5. ^ Collapse of the Twin Flip
  6. ^ 7 News story on the Airmaxx 360 incident

External links[edit]