The 2020 Ekka kicks off today but, like most things in 2020, it’s life, but not as we know it.
This year the RNA’s Royal Queensland Show is going online to get around the social restrictions created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers hope to be able to still create some of that magical Ekka spirit.
Ekka 2020 Online will be presented by RACQ in an interactive, online format across 10 days from August 7 to 16, featuring 10 farms, 10 unique virtual channels, and including 10 tonnes of the Ekka’s famous strawberry sundaes, in an attempt to keep the event’s iconic traditions thriving.
RACQ spokesperson Lucinda Ross said the event would pay tribute to the Ekka through online participation in virtual tours of Queensland farming properties, as well as cooking and gardening tutorial videos, chances to “meet” adorable animals in an interactive display, and much more.
Ms Ross said the virtual Ekka was an excellent opportunity to unite all aspects of different communities.
“When RNA had to sadly cancel the 2020 Ekka due to COVID-19, we knew we needed to find a way to ensure Queenslanders didn’t miss out on the joy, excitement and happy memories we’ve come to love about the Ekka,” she said.
Queensland has been using the Ekka as a forum to celebrate and showcase the state’s agricultural community since its first show in 1876.
The 10-day program, which is typically packed with live shows, farm animals, showbags, competitions, food, fireworks displays, and more, has been a great way of uniting communities from the country and the city.
This year is only the third time the physical Ekka event has been cancelled in the 144 years of the event’s operation, and while it was certainly a tough decision to make, the RNA, its sponsors and the general public agreed this was the right thing to do in the interests of public health.
RNA Chief Executive Brendan Christou acknowledged in a statement that the organisation had to do their best to keep the public safe.
“These are very challenging and unprecedented times, and nothing is more important than ensuring the best outcome for public health is achieved,” Mr Christou said.
One of the key focuses of the Ekka has always been to bring the community together, not just for a family fun day out, but also to connect the country to the city.
Dairy farmer and face of the 2020 ‘Meet a Farmer’ Ekka channel, Kay Tommerup, said she appreciated not only the values behind the Ekka, but also those of the people who have helped make it happen online.
“I really want to try and help people understand the rural industries,” Ms Tommerup said.
“I think that the more we can create connections between city and country, the more people will value and understand what we do as farmers,” she said.
No Ekka experience is complete without one of the event’s iconic strawberry sundaes, and organisers of the online event have made sure that fans of the famed sweet treat are not disappointed.
Pop-up strawberry sundae stalls will be located at a number of locations, including a drive through stall at the RNA showgrounds, during the 10-day event.
Visit www.ekkaonline.com to find the nearest location to you.
Sundae fans can also purchase a DIY strawberry sundae pack, allowing them to recreate the delicious treat from the comfort of their own home.
For the past 32 years the proceeds of sales of the Ekka’s strawberry sundaes have been going to help The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation fund an initiative that is now known as the Common Good.
Prince Charles Hospital Foundation CEO Michael Hornby said the funds were used for essential medical research into chronic diseases, which now included COVID-19.
“We’ve always known strawberry sundaes hold a special place… and in these uncertain times… they provide a moment of… joy in people’s lives,” Mr Hornby said.
Mr Hornby said the Common Good had received generous support from organisations they work with to allow them to keep the stalls running this year, as well as getting an outstanding number of volunteers to help ensure the pop-up sundae stalls run smoothly.
“The strawberry growers have gotten behind us, and… have donated all the strawberries to us in this project, that’s five tonnes of fresh, Queensland strawberries… which is lovely,” he said.
Ekka fans can check out all the virtual action from this year’s event via the Ekka channels, which are listed on the official Ekka 2020 Online website, www.ekkaonline.com.
The website also offers a virtual marketplace where Ekka “visitors” can purchase food, wine, beauty products, fashion, showbags and more in one easy location.