ROB INGRAM BRAVES BUSHFIRES AND RECORD TEMPERATURES TO ATTEND THE LOCAL AGRICULTURAL SHOW.
IT WAS 45 DEGREES on the Friday, but the usual suspects were rolling up. With 101 shows behind it, Dunedoo wasn’t sitting in front of its air conditioners — when it’s show day tomorrow, you don’t whinge about the heat. There are preparations to be done. The show must go on. Barry and Henry had been watering the arena for weeks and, with the sun behind you, there was a definite tinge of green. Just one more week and their efforts would have been the talk of the town and perhaps even resulted in a Service to the Community award at next year’s Australia Day celebrations. But the real heroes are the stewardesses and judges rolling up for a long, hot day of toil in the corrugated iron Bowman Pavilion — women who have devoted the best part of their lives to honouring vows of registration, qualification, presentation and evaluation... women who, year after year, have applied the highest levels of scrutiny and integrity to the pickled cucumber, the decorated sultana cake and the miniature cactus dahlia. They arrive with investigative spectacles on a plastic chain around the neck, accredited clipboard under one arm, polyethylene esky firmly in hand. During the course of the day, the esky supplies ice-cold bottles of water, ice-cold face cloths and ice-cold atomisers for misting the face, before finally becoming an ice-cold footbath for swollen feet and ankles. After all, NSW is the hottest place on the planet on this day... and the show must go on. Luckily the workload is not as heavy as in recent years. A succession of days above 40 degrees has had a moderating effect on entries. Regular exhibitors have been loath to swelter over cauldrons of berry jam (any variety) or lemon butter (one jar). In the cut flowers category, the entries have been cut more than the flowers. Garden produce is a watermelon. But needlework seems healthy enough. I guess one of the few things you can do in this weather is sit beside an evaporative cooler and whip up an appliqué article, a matched set of doilies or a cross-stitch wall hanging. When I return on show day, the lady on the gate tells me to park wherever I like. The men have all gone to fight the fire, she says, indicating the billowing cloud of smoke to the east. The man on the PA is apologising for the cancellation of the evening’s rodeo and fireworks display. The show committee has been sensible enough to check with the RSPCA about the effect the temperatures will have on livestock. Poultry, sheep and cattle have been given the day off. Dogs, and their tongues, hang out in the shade beneath ute trays. The head cattle steward has created a misting tent that sprays cool water from irrigation piping. It’s gratefully inhabited by a few strutting birds, two horses, three dogs, and several glistening children and adults. Next door, the Café Sassy coffee van is doing brisk business with its special of the day — ice-cold coffee frappés. I feel for the hot food vendors, on the road all year only to arrive at the hottest place on the planet on the hottest day on record. Even the rides and the sideshows are doing it tough — the operators are snoozing in the shade under the bungee trampoline. The shooting gallery attendant has either turned the gun on himself or returned to his caravan. The representatives of the NSW Farmers Association are snoozing in the shaded end of their tent behind a forest of printed information on everything from the spread of Q fever to backpacker tax rules. “Do you have anything on climate change?” I ask innocently. Despite the adverse conditions, an abridged version of the 2017 Dunedoo Show went ahead as advertised. What we weren’t able to have this year will only increase the anticipation for next year’s show... and the usual suspects will again be at the door of the Bowman Pavilion with their expertise and their eskys. The show must go on.
“IN THE CUT FLOWERS CATEGORY, THE ENTRIES HAVE BEEN CUT MORE THAN THE FLOWERS.”