What’s new at this year’s Ekka

FOR the next 10 days it's the only show in town.

While today may not have the opening ceremony, the Ekka will have everything any dedicated show-goer could want - sideshowalley, the showbag pavilion, an animal nursery, fashion parade and fireworks.

The first day program also includes stud beef judging in the main arena, the start of the woodchop and sawing competition, cookery and wool judging.

With the outlook of fine weather, some upgraded facilities and new attractions, organisers are hoping to reach or top lastyear's 415,000 attendance figure.

RNA chief executive Brendan Christou at the Royal Snack Bar. Picture: Peter Wallis
RNA chief executive Brendan Christou at the Royal Snack Bar. Picture: Peter Wallis

RNA Chief Executive Brendan Christou said it was looking like the Ekka, which has its official opening ceremony with Governor-general of Australia David Hurley on Saturday, would have its moment in the sun.

"Brisbane's long-range weather forecast is looking positive and we are looking forward to sunny blue skies and temperaturesin the low to mid 20s," Mr Christou said.

And he said despite the continuing drought through much of the state, and the February floods in North Queensland that hadaffected many primary producers, the country had come to the city again this year

"Many farming families have still made their way to the show and they are remaining optimistic," Mr Christou said.

"Their resilience is remarkable and the Ekka is a time for us all to support our farmers and bush communities and acknowledgetheir incredible efforts."

Elizabeth Douglas 10, with showbags; John Douglas, 5, holding Lambie; model Brooke Finato, 23; Anthony Cootes on Bullseye; and woodchoppers Jake and Dustin Dingle. Picture: Lachie Millard
Elizabeth Douglas 10, with showbags; John Douglas, 5, holding Lambie; model Brooke Finato, 23; Anthony Cootes on Bullseye; and woodchoppers Jake and Dustin Dingle. Picture: Lachie Millard

This year there have been 1022 stud beef, 366 prime beef and 397 led steer entered - which is on par with last year with theexception of junior led steer which was up 20 per cent.

Another bonus for Ekka-goers this year is better facilities.

More animals have made a temporary home in the four-storey carpark - renamed the Arrow Energy Pavilion - for the durationof the show and the animal nursery had been moved to a bigger area.

Animal nursery organiser James Kemp, who has brought close to 200 babies including puppies, lambs, donkeys, pigs and ducksto the nursery, said the new Expo Place felt more like a farm.

"It's bigger and there is more space for people to move around," he said.

Elly-Mae Dingle and Hannah Warriner are ready for the Ekka. Picture: Annette Dew
Elly-Mae Dingle and Hannah Warriner are ready for the Ekka. Picture: Annette Dew

It takes plenty of planning to make sure there are enough baby animals to cuddle.

"For example, a sheep has a gestation period of 150 days, so these were joined on January 9 so I know I have two cycles forthem to fall pregnant," he says.

Meanwhile, show-goers Elly-Mae Dingle and Hannah Warriner were yesterday getting an early taste of the new watermelon sanga ($10) and the Ekka staple, the strawberry sundae ($5.50).

And while the watermelon sandwich got a big thumbs up it will be a big call to try and beat the 180,000 strawberry sundaessold last year.

WHAT'S NEW THIS YEAR

  •  Four family-friendly rides including a four-level pirate-themed fun house and a kangaroo-themed drop tower.
  • For the first time, horse riders will wear backpacks shooting pyrotechnics in the arena during the fireworks.
  • Grab a watermelon sanga - ice cream between slices of watermelon and topped with chocolate seeds.
  • The Grand Parade on People's Day has been moved to 4.30pm, making it easier to stick around for the fireworks.
  • Pigeons are back after a two-year absence.
  • 40 new show bags among 400 different bags for sale.
  • 40 people will become Australian citizens in the first citizenship ceremony held during the Ekka.
  • Sheep, angoras, and alpacas join the beef and dairy cattle and poultry in the four-storey Arrow Energy Pavilion.
  • More space to pat and cuddle animals in the RACQ Animal Nursery in the new bigger, outdoor Expo Place.
  • A new home for the canine competition. For the first time the prized pooches will be judged on real turf.

EKKA FACTS

OPENING HOURS

■ Today until Sunday, August 18, 9am-8pm.

■ Sideshow Alley open until 9pm.

■ Bars including the XXXX Stockman's Bar & Grill open until midnight.

PUBLIC HOLIDAY

Wednesday, August 14 is the show holiday in Brisbane.

Monday, August 12 is the Ekka show holiday in the council areas of Redland City, Logan, Moreton Bay, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley, Gympie, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Goondiwindi, Somerset, Toowoomba, Western Downs, Balonne and Cherbourg.

TICKETS

■ Adult $35

■ Child 5-14 years $20

■ Little Ekka Pass 4 years and under free

■ Concession $25

■ Adult and Child Pass $45

■ Family Pass (two adults and two children) $80

■ 10 Day Pass $100

■ Twilight Pass (entry after 6pm) $20

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Ekka ticket holders get discounted TransLink tickets - $6 adult or $3 child for return travel to the Ekka from anywhere in the TransLink southeast network.

RIDES

New rides are the family-friendly four-level Pirates Nest with its 35 obstacles and, in an Australian first, a water play zone; the Happy Kangaroo, a drop tower that bounces as it lowers to the ground; a 30m high Star Flyer and the Enchanted Circus, a funhouse that includes rope bridges and a vibrating floor.

And back this year is the XSCREAM Soundwave, The Beast, Dragon Castle and Speed 2 plus the Crazy Spinning Coaster, Royal Double Decker Carousel and Dodgem Cars. Rides cost between $5 and $15.

EKKANITES

Night time entertainment is from 6-8pm. There are children's fireworks at 6.05pm and the Fireworks Spectacular at 7.40pm.