Gregory Tce Bowen Hills
A $26 Conc $20
C 5-14 yrs $16
The Ekka has arrived for its 135th year, meaning it's time yet again to scream the lungs out from inside the Zipper, kick back with a Dagwood Dog and watch the wood chop, have a beer at the Cattleman's Bar, hang out with chickens, ride the rollercoaster, gorge on fairy floss and battle the show bag pavilion crowd. And while this much anticipated annual event is all about wandering around and losing yourself (but preferably not the children) in the fun of the fair, here's a bit of rundown on this year's show for those who like to be prepared.
Families with children Under 7:
Head for the section featuring the Toontowns Childrens Area down near Gregory Tce – in one compact zone are all the littlies' favourites. Kids' rides include tea cup rides, slides, carousels, dodgems, pony rides, mirror maze and the disabled-friendly 4-in-1 bungee trampoline.
Other interest points are the RACQ Animal Nursery come petting zoo and the CBeebies Animal Walk – a guided tour especially for families with young children of Animal Boulevard – the feathered, the hairy, the smooth and the furry.
Look out for the Chillout Zones – these are self-contained areas for parents to get a decent coffee and children to hang out and slow down with a free activity between gigs.
Foodwise, follow the tradition – Dagwood Dogs, strawberry and cream ice-creams, choc-dipped strawberries and fairy floss, otherwise the Gourmet Harvest precinct has sushi, yum cha, pasta or steak.
Kids can play detective and follow the Thiess Ekka Learning Trail. Starting at the Thiess Discovery Hub, Learning Trail HQ or BCC stand, pick up an activity booklet then go on the lookout for dinosaurs, whales, farmers and giant Lego displays along the way. Identify the 17 points and go in the draw to win a holiday at Tangalooma Resort.
A live show to catch is the Harvey and the Humpbacks dance troop performing at the Community Stage at the Stockmen's Rest on the 9th, 11th, 12th, 15th a otherwise look out for them in the Daily Street Parade from 12pm.
Amongst the gazillion show bags for the younger ages are the ABC Kids bag, Sesame Beginnings, The Smurfs, Pretty Pony and Puppy Love. As the show bag pavilion can be a nightmare for even the sanest of cool, calm and collected adults, it's best with children to pre-order on line and go and pick up.
Everyone else aged 8-100:
Aside from the Kids Rides, some of which, like the bungee jumping, Euro Slide and water balls appeal to older children, the rest are divided into Family Rides and the not-for-the-faint-hearted Extreme Rides. This year's line-up includes all the old favourites - the Zipper, Dodgem Cars, Euro Slide, Hollywood Horrors, Giant Wheel, Roller Coaster and Mirror Maze to name a few as well as first timer, the Rockstar – a giant guitar that swings from side to side up to 25m high, changing patterns and colours as it goes, and Australia's only spinning roller coaster.
Highlights from the rest of the show are some of the things that generations have enjoyed at the Ekka – the Animal Arena with sheep shearing, horseshoeing and dog discipline, the Beef Pavilion, Animal Boulevard and Competitions. And no visit to the Ekka is complete without seeing Queensland's biggest pumpkin or the stunning fruit and vegetable artworks in the Brisbane Markets Agricultural Hall.
While on the topic of food, by all means have a Dagwood Dog but check out the Gourmet Harvest Precinct for curries from The Sultan's Kitchen, sushi, Giancarlo and Grinders coffee, pasta from CJ's Pasta, Yum Cha or steak from the Steakhouse Snack Bar. Or for something light and fresh head for the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion. Tucked away in here there's also a seafood and wine bar, featuring oysters and hot smoked salmon, while fresh juices are to be had at the Brisbane Markets Agricultural Hall
There's a spot of shopping to be had at the John Reid Wool Pavilion, Bushmans Trading Post and Home and Outdoor Living Pavilion and knowledge to be had from the government precinct and Lifestyle and Leisure pavilion.
In the evenings the Fireworks show is from 8.15-8.30 nightly and the last night, Saturday August 18th goes off with an extra big bang when Eskimo Joe close the show from 7.30-9.30pm.