Show­ground mem­o­ries

Weekend Witness - - Opinion - MEAN­WHILE ... Stephanie Sav­ille

ON M on­day, w e car­ried a s tory about the pos sibil­ity that the Royal Sho wgrounds ma y r elo­cate at some point.

When I heard about this ini­tially, I was re­ally sad. The show­grounds are such an in­te­gral part of Mar­itzburg that it would be the end of an er a, wouldn’t it ? Here’s your his tory le sson for to­day. Ac­cord­ing t o the Piet er­mar­itzburg Royal A gri­cul­tural So­ciet y, the so­ciet y was formed in 1851 and hos ted its first show, The Pi­eter­mar­itzburg Fair, next to the Mar­ket Square be­hind the cit y hall on Dec em­ber 2 3 that y ear.

“Although heavy and per sis­tent rain con­tin­ued thr ough­out, the or gan­is­ing com­mit­tee re­mained un­daunted.” Good for them! T hat’s the spirit.

With the e xcep­tion of the w ar years and the Bam­batha Re­bel­lion, the so­ci­ety, they say, has held a show ev­ery year since. That’s quit e a f eat.

In 1 902, the y moved t o the pr es­ent show­grounds lo­ca­tion w hich gr ew in size to its present size of ap­prox­i­mately 18 hect ares.

Now you know. And it’s rather fas­ci­nat­ing. T hey’ve been ther e f or o ver a cen­tury.

Imag­ine ho w man y peo­ple ha ve passed through the gates. Imag­ine your grand­par­ents and gr eat-grand­par­ents go­ing ther e f or what­ever r ea­son.

Sit­u­ated w here the y ar e, the sho wgrounds are one of those an­chor points in the city. So much hap­pens there. It’s the city’s play­ground for adults and chil- dren alike. It’s as­so­ci­ated with fun­fairs, entertainment, cand yfloss, dough­nut s, flow­ers and sor e f eet.

Think­ing about this un­leashed a flood of mem­o­rie s. We’ve been t o so man y events ther e over so man y years, fr om se­ri­ous busi­ness meet­ings to the pomp and cer­e­mony of the open­ing of the KZN Leg­is­la­ture and ban­quets we’ve toffed up for, and we’ve also togged up in our most com­fort­able shoes to tramp the grounds flat at Royal Shows and Gar­den Shows. We’ve been t o man y Piet er­mar­itzburg Cham­ber of B usi­ness meet­ing s ther e, had the priz e-giv­ings f or The Wit­ness True Sto­ries of KZN there, been to busi­ness re­lays and even to proper jorls there.

Who r emem­bers the eightie s’ p arty a few years back, where we danced like mad in our 40s t o the song s we loved in our t eens?

Who didn’ t f eel the nos tal­gia that night as the deej ay blas ted Bill y I dol, Mad­ness and Depeche Mode? We must have looked ridicu­lous dressed up in our eight­ies’ gear, but we felt great and when it got too hot in­side the hall, w e went out into the cool­ness of the grounds and heard the trickle of the s tream in the back­ground be­tween the thump, thump, thump of the mu­sic in­side.

Many of us r emem­bered hold­ing hands sh yly with our fir st bo yfiends (that was a t ypo, and look­ing b ack at it and hav­ing a chuckle, I’ve de­cided to leave it. It’s rather apt!), walk­ing around the sho wgrounds hop­ing w e w ouldn’t bump into a t eacher or a friend of our par­ents.

As young teens, my mother had t wo rules about the Royal Show for my four sis­ters and I. We were never allowed to go on the rides, for fear we’d get smashed to smithereens, and we were not allowed to go at night, for fear the “bad crowd” would suck us in, f or that’s when they fre­quented the sho w.

She would leave the an­tics of the “bad crowd” up to our imag­i­na­tion, and I re­mem­ber be­ing both t erri­fied and fas­ci­nated b y the thought of them.

To this da y, I ha ve ne ver been on a roller c oaster. W hen m y bo yfriends asked me back then to go on a ride with them, m y s tan­dard ans wer w as that I wasn’t allo wed t o. W hat a fun dat e I must have been. But I have stuck to that and it’s s till my e xcuse.

And the cold! Many of us have never been as cold as we have been at the show­grounds near the river as dusk fell in winter. Big c oats, scarf s and blue nose s. That’s winter show-time fash­ion for you.

And who hasn’t got lost at the show? It’s half the fun, wan­der­ing around los­ing y our bear­ing s in a saf e plac e.

For those of us who’ve lived in the city for many years, the sho wgrounds have been an int egral part of our li ves here. They are a p art of the char ac­ter of the cap­i­tal.

We drive past them all the time, w e go t o them. And w e’re pr ob­a­bly quit e nos­tal­gic about them. Well, I’ve dis­cov­ered that I c er­tainly am.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.