The second Saturday in September is an important day in the Quilpie year…the annual Quilpie and District Show. Truly a highlight, it is the culmination and a reflection of all we do best. The show is what we produce and create and who we are as a community. We love it.
When I came to this district thirty-six years ago, it was The Quilpie Wool and Flower Show. The annual fund raiser for the Anglican Church, the show always seemed to punch well above its weight. In those days, it was held in the Shire Hall, spilling out onto the main street where required for the hotly contested Wool Bale Rolling, keeping the crowds entertained while the hall was closed and the judging took place. Don’t lose them before the bar opens.
Finally, the doors would re-open and the exuberance of the district’s efforts loomed large. Row upon row of trestle tables, each groaning under the extravagance of their sections: roses, bulbs, natives, collections and specimens, any flower not provided for. Kilograms of our Golden Fleeces, the Child’s Pet Fleece always tipping the scales. Even wool paintings.
Then there was fruit beyond belief, collections of citrus the size of soccer balls. Every vegetable you could imagine, many in shapes you couldn’t. Eggs, Home Brew, Patchwork and Needlework. Jams and marmalades, biscuits and sponges. Much of this would be submitted by the same person: the hand that stitched such fine shadow embroidery fed the chooks, tended the orchard, whipped the oven into action between mustering the sheep and bottling the beer. When you peruse the records of Champion Exhibitor you are reading the names that sustained this district.
Of course, there was something for the children with story writing and artwork and Child’s vegetable arranging. The flower arranging was almost as hotly contested as the Fruit Cake: Boiled. Prize: Ladies’ Wristwatch. It would never do for 2019 and I seem to recall in the early ‘80’s it was famously won in a Lion’s Fruit Cake Heist by someone who had no use for a ladies wristwatch. It almost stopped the show!
In true Quilpie style, there was always room to reflect the year that was; after a wet winter, the Tallest Marshmellow Stem section called for creative carting. How to fit that twelve foot length of Marshmellow weed into the car with four children, two dozen eggs, buckets of garden flowers, three pieces of loosely put together wooden creations for the Child’s Handicraft , an obscure carrot with dirt on for no reason at all and two plates of crumbling Jam Drops. Possibly half eaten by dog on way to car. Hurry, hurry. We must be in town by eight as Mummy is stewarding the rose section, Daddy is judging the Home Brew (lucky Daddy) and we must arrange our flowers when we get to town. Factoring in that Miss Boodles was always carsick before we hit the bitumen, the show was a long day as well as a fun day.
Some years ago, the Wool and Flower Show outgrew the hall and the Anglican Church gave it to the community. The Quilpie and District Show was born and to this day, carries all the fun, excitement and anticipation that has grown through the generations. The programme sits on my desk with me now, the 2019 theme ‘Helping Hands in the Outback’ well chosen for the year just past. Perhaps the sections are more streamlined; there are simply less of us here to grow and create. Some sections have morphed into activities more relevant to our times. The essence of the show never changes though and there will be children collecting, creating and cooking this week. There will be flowers picked and placed in old boots, beetroot the size of rockmelons positioned carefully beside a multi-pronged carrot. Eggs will be polished, stories submitted. The photographs and wool will be displayed along with handcrafts and sewing.
Best of all, we will gather to share and celebrate the wins and the almosts. After all, there is always next year,
The Moble Gardener.