A day at the Show, 2020 style

By Chelsea Shepherd

How does the Show @ Home compare to the real thing?

Like many South Australians, I have been grieving the cancellation of this year's Royal Adelaide Show.

On April 15, we learned the sad news of the Royal Adelaide Show’s cancellation due to (yep, you guessed it) COVID-19.

For some, the show is simply a day where money flies out of pockets, but for others, it's a day of fun, thrills, discovery and of course, food.

As an only child, I had the luxury of going to show every year. This was a rarity amongst my friends with brothers and sisters. It was the one thing my mum could bribe me with to end the constant complaining from me about not having siblings.

We’d cram into the car at 9am on the first Saturday of the show and begin an exciting day. Every second year we were joined by my best friend and her mum.

As a kid, the rides were my favourite attraction; there was no ride too scary, and to be honest, it’s the same to this day.

We would stare at the amazing cakes, watch the pigs race, and stroll through sideshow alley until the sun went down and the fireworks went up.

I was allowed two showbags that I’d choose at the end of the night. One of them was always Willy Wonka.

This year I was determined to keep the tradition alive as best as I could and the Royal Adelaide Show did not disappoint.

This year the show used a virtual site called The Show @Home to fill the physical Royal Adelaide Show’s void.

On it you can still play the sideshow games, watch the rides as if you’re actually on them, visit the stalls via their websites and watch all the main attractions online.

Feeling a big sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), I decided to dedicate a day to be my virtual show day.

I started my show day by heading to my nearest Foodland to purchase a showbag. I clearly wasn’t the only one to have that idea as that store, plus the next two Foodlands that I visited, were all sold out!

I managed to find some showbags at my closest OTR service station, however no Willy Wonka, so I settled on a Warhead showbag.

David, the shop assistant, said the showbags had been hugely popular.

“We have sold countless showbags everyday despite the Show being cancelled,” he said.

“I guess people don’t want to miss out on the things they enjoy about the Show.”

I then headed home and settled in on the couch with my laptop for a big day of virtual fun.

My favourite part of the show is and always will be the rides.

I was disappointed I couldn't enjoy the real thing, but I gave the virtual ones a go.

On the website, you can select the ride you wish to go on and watch it as if you were actually on it.

I chose my usual favourites, the Big Dipper, the Speed 2, XXXL and the Extreme Thriller and although they made me feel a little dizzy, it was still fun.

Getting the rides out of the way first is always the best idea at the show so that you can start eating food otherwise. Doing it the reverse way can definitely end up a little dicey.

Next, I decided to dig into my showbag while I spent some time viewing the photography exhibits.

It was a great addition to the website to have the photography and art exhibits as well as videos of the cars, live music and the horses.

My favourite aspect of the show this year had to the be sideshow alley, the most interactive part of the virtual experience.

It’s a series of online games that simulate the real sideshow alley which test your skills (and patience).

The best part about it was that it’s free.

As I’ve grown into an adult, my favourite parts of the show have changed.

Although my best friend and I still love the rides, we’ve come to appreciate the wining and dining aspect of the show.

We usually spend the afternoon at the show tasting cheeses, dips and various wines and it’s become a tradition since becoming legal.

This year was no exception, although slightly different than normal.

We both visited our local bottle shops and picked up our favourite South Australian wine.

We spent the night on the phone to each other and reminisced on the many years of attending the show together and what we miss the most.

We both agreed that this year has thrown us some curveballs and the show would have been a nice way to have some fun, but being able to share our favourite memories was very special.

To round up a very relaxing show day, I watched a video of fireworks on YouTube and called it a night.

The virtual show is a great alternative to the Show for families this year. But even when we’re not in a global pandemic, the Show @ Home could be extended to allow those who may not be able to attend the Show because of distance, time or financial constraints, to be part of the fun.

Although I much prefer the real Royal Adelaide Show, I appreciated the effort the organisers put into the virtual one, and I hope to be on that classic Ferris wheel this time next year.