Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Not Just Any Easter Show, It's Royal

One of the big things we kept hearing to do over the kids holidays was the Sydney Easter Show.  We figured we might as well check it out since we were around.  We booked a deal with a nearby hotel that included tickets to the Show and headed out Friday early afternoon.  We spent a good portion of our afternoon wandering around Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney.  The Paramatta River runs through the town and has a lovely walking path around it.  We walked along there for some time, letting the kiddos roam up and the hills while we strolled.  It was a lovely, lazy afternoon.  Afterwards, we freshened up at the hotel and walked to a restaurant.  After a good dinner, we headed back to get the boys in bed on time.  From what we heard, the next day was going to be full on - and it was.

We got up, had a big breakfast, and drove off to the show.  The show is on the Olympic Grounds, which was exciting to me.  It was hard to get good shots, since there were a lot of people around.  This is a picture of ANZ (pronounced anzed) Stadium.  I love how everything around it reflected the Olympic Cauldron - even the lightposts, which you can't see in this shot.  I was hoping they had removed the Olympic Cauldron from inside the stadium.  I distinctly remember thinking how beautiful the fire and water combination was during the 2000 Olympic Opening Ceremony and never thought I'd be standing so close to it.  Luckily, it had been revamped into a fountain in a memorial park next to the stadium, where children are able to romp through.  I was able to finally get a picture without people in it.

Olympic Cauldron
The theme of this year's show - and around Australia in general - is Year of the Farmer.  So off we were to find out where our food comes from.  We hardly got in the door of the exhibition hall before the kids were begging to see the tractor.

Impressive tire, or should I say tyre, size

Next the boys picked some wheat and ground up the little bit they had.  As you can see, this was serious work.  Both boys were convinced they had made enough flour to make a pie crust.  When I said they'd have to make a lot more flour to make a pie crust they were disappointed -until they were handed a small tin with dough in it.  On went the aprons and they were off making meat pies.

Nathan quickly discovered that you can't roll the dough back and forth, you have to pick up the rolling pin first.  He has decided to help me the next time I make anything that needs rolling out.  Will, on the other hand, needed a bit more help.  I was glad because while Bri was helping him, I was able to snap this picture.

Placing the pie crust in the tin

I know it doesn't show a whole lot, but I love the juxtaposition of their hands together.  So sweet!

They were then told to place their pie crusts in the oven.  To Nath's chagrin, it was pretend.  He was ready to eat his own meat pie!

The kids weren't as excited to see the cows and learn how they became meat, so we pressed onward to the fruit stand.  We bought the boys "wobbly apples" - they had been cored and sliced in a spiral, which the boys had fun making be a spring.  Bri and I shared a freshly squeezed glass of apple juice - yum!

Chin up, Nath!

Out the door we went to the animal nursery.  On the way there we stopped for the boys to participate in a sack race.  They were happy to do so.  Both boys tried their hardest, but Nathan was able to pull out the win!  We told him it must have been the extra power from his Wallabies shirt.  He told us it was because he was the oldest!  Maybe, but we were proud of him anyway!

After all of that excitement, we were off to the animal nursery.  It's always amusing to me how excited children are to see farm animals.  It's like they've never been to a farm (they have) or a petting zoo (they have) before!  Both boys wanted feed cups for the animals.  Against our better judgement, we bought two.  See, Will has a history of getting bored, or perhaps frightened, and being done feeding the animals while there's about 3/4 of his feed left.  Of course, this happened again.  I don't have that great of pictures in the barn because the kids kept moving.  They did not like the bossy sheep and goats.  Here are a few anyway.

The white chicken didn't want to share

Will was begging us to take him on some of the carnival rides.  Nathan wanted nothing to do with them, mostly because they were so loud.  I think he was a bit afraid as well, but there was no way we were getting him on anything.  Brian and I took turns sharing rides with Will.  Brian got a few pictures of us on the rides-  not the best looking, since you had to aim the camera over a fence and hope you were getting something!  But they at least convey the fun Will was having!

This was his favorite ride.  It was a kiddie coaster with dinosaurs at the bottom.  It went a bit faster then I was expecting, but nothing Will couldn't handle.  He did make sure I kept my arm around him, however.

This is one of my favorite pictures, just for the look of total joy on Will's face.  He also went through a fun house and down one of those big slides, both with Brian, but the kiddie coasters were clearly his favorite type of ride, by a mile.

Nathan played the dart game.  He actually did quite well - hit a balloon every time.  I was surprised with his accuracy.  I guess the dartboard in his room is paying off - if you want to call a cheap, green monkey a payout!  He was very proud and we made a big deal out of it.

I know this bored the boys to tears, but I wanted to go and see the flower exhibition.  I am still in awe of the different types of plants around here.  Sure, there are roses, daisies, etc.  but most everything looks so foreign and so, I suppose, tropical to me!  I wish I remembered the names of the flowers, but I don't.    I had the boys pick out their favorite flowers and took a few pictures.  We liked the bright colors and the spikiness of these flowers. 

I loved the dress below made out of flora.  It didn't do much for anybody else, but I wanted to share it anyway.

Nathan was actually very fascinated with the Bonsai display, which does seem like something Nathan would like!  He's very specific and likes those type of lines.  He and Brian spent some time exploring that display.

While we were in that hall, they were having a competition for florists to decorate a cardboard tube large enough to hold a present.  They had to pick out the flowers they wanted to use before they knew the task.  We didn't stick around to see what they did because the boys were getting antsy.

My artsy picture of a Dahlia

We also watched a high dive show.  It was Sinbad and his pirates in search of the golden pineapple.  The boys were impressed and enjoyed the mild boyish humor in the show.  I'm impressed that anybody has the guts to dive off a platform several stories high into a 3 metre deep pool!

After walking through several more exhibit halls, we were tired and ready for some food.  As you can see, Will very much enjoyed his spaghetti!  We were trying to eat so we were in time to watch the rodeo.  Nathan really wanted to see people riding bulls, and we were happy to try.  However, before the rodeo we had to go get the boys showbags.  I had never heard of a showbag, but it was clear it was a big thing to do - they had an entire exhibit hall dedicated to showbags.  Basically, they are about the size of a shopping bag, filled with whatever topic in which you are interested.  And it wasn't just for the kids!  They had showbags with perfumes, AFL gear, and magazines - all for a variety of different prices.  We tried to interest the kids in some of the AFL bags, but they only had one interest - candy.  So we bought them one fairly large bag and told them they could share.  All sugared off, we were off to Commonwealth stadium to watch the rodeo.

The stadium was packed.  We had to split up and sit a few rows apart.  Unfortunately, all of the close seats were reserved for members- of what, I don't know.  There was a big screen to watch, so that was good. 

For some reason, I don't associate cowboys with Australia, but after I thought about it, it makes since.  They do have the Outback and raise lots of cattle, so I suppose cowboys make sense. 

Apparently, every year it's a contest between New South Wales and Queensland.  Nathan got really into it, cheering loudly for the NSW guys.  He was very excited when they announced that one of the cowboys was from Raymond Terrace, which is very close to where we live.  Unfortunately, a NSW victory was not to be had.  It was a very close score and we got to see some exciting moments.  Nathan loved the bull riding and was beside himself with excitement when one of the bulls began snorting and pawing the ground.  Will was bored with most of it, but did seem to enjoy the barrel racing.  Brian and I both thought it was quite good fun.  I mean, how can it not be fun to watch a guy jump off a horse and wrestle a steer to the ground?

I think they're all a bit crazy

Fun with long exposures
It was getting fairly late and we had a 2 1/2 hour drive ahead of us, so we started thinking about heading home.  We had promised Will one of the battery powered twirly light up thingies (it's official name), so we stopped and let both of the boys pick one out.  They were very happy.  I told them they could light paint with them, so we set up a shot and let them go to town!  I also had them stop on the way out so I could just get a picture of the toy spinning.  And I couldn't resist taking a picture of one of the rides with the lights on spinning around.  It's fun to know how to work your camera!

And with that, we said goodbye to the Show.  I was right, it was a lot like I remember the Ohio State Fair being.  Lots of agricultural things, rides for the kids to enjoy, and competitions all around.  We had a great time, although I was reminded how much I hate being in large crowds.  The kids slept most of the way home.  We got them in their own beds around 11:00pm.  We crashed shortly after!  It was a long, but very fun day all around!

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