Join us on a time travelling adventure as we visit the Royal Adelaide Show in 1968. What is similar to your local show today? What looks different? Click on the images below for photos, videos and more information. Suitable for years 3 to 6.
Agricultural shows, often called royal or country shows, started as a way for farmers to share ideas and learn about new farming methods and equipment.
Shows encourage better quality animals and crops by awarding prizes for everything from the best sheep or wheat sample to the tastiest apple and the biggest pumpkin. Some types of early competitions still exist today and many are open to children.
Did you know?
'Agriculture' means 'working the land'. It is important because it produces many of the things we need to survive: fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, wool and more.
Early agricultural shows were mostly about displaying and judging animals and produce. As more people attended, organisers began to provide other entertainment. 'Sideshow alleys' with rides, games and displays attracted children and adults who were less interested in farming. Sideshow alley remains popular today.
All royal shows have a main arena, a field where the grand parade takes place and other entertainment is provided. At the Royal Adelaide Show, some of the main arena acts have included the human cannonball, rocket man, high-flying acrobats, marching girls and precision driving displays. Fireworks are also a regular feature.
The first 'sample' bags were given away for free from the late 1920s and usually contained small food samples. Over the years, the price, contents and design of show bags have changed, but they remain popular. Today there are bags promoting toys, sports teams, magazines and cosmetics. Prices range from a few dollars to more than $200! For many, a visit to the show is not complete without buying at least one show bag.
Woodchopping, where skilled contestants try to be the first to cut through a log or block of wood, is a popular feature of royal shows. The sport began in Australia in about 1870, with the first tournament held in Tasmania in 1891. The Royal Adelaide Show held its first woodchopping competition in 1905. Highly-skilled (and strong) axemen and women still compete in woodchopping contests at shows today.
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Watch the videos
See the people, animals, rides and events at the 1968 Royal Adelaide Show.
Agricultural show clips on the Australian Screen website
Amateur and professional footage from Sydney (1926 and 1941) Brisbane (1952) and Melbourne (1962). Duration: 1:47 to 2:21.
1963 Royal Adelaide Show on YouTube
Commonwealth Film Unit report covering the apple packing competition, grand parade and shearing demonstrations. From the National Film and Sound Archive. Duration: 3:57.
1950s Royal Adelaide Show on YouTube
Amateur footage of the grand parade, show rides and sideshow alley. From the State Library of South Australia Duration: 14:54.