The Uplifting and Unparalleled Uraidla & Summertown Show



Entering the showgrounds, Alex (A1) and his friend from up the road, Alexander (A2), commenced an eating marathon or, in truth, sustained the one started in the car.


First up were snow cones, a marketing triumph of crushed ice drenched with hallucinogenic Cottee’s (I hope so) cordial. Using eleven cents of ingredients, it retails for $5. But, as they say in Brixton, the boys were well pleased.


It was an Adelaide Hills spring day with crisp air and clouds rushing. We kept our eyes skyward and there was a tree-climbing competition on a massive gum, whose sturdy girth meant it had a fair grip o’ the earth.


Our home town of Kapunda recently hosted an international climbing event at the duck pond sponsored by the Crimson Bovine energy drink which I imagine exactly zero of the competitors enjoyed before, during or after competition. However, Claire and I agreed it was excellent to see the difficult work of arborists codified and celebrated.


Setting the boys adrift, Claire and I took in the stalls run by passionate backyarders. With foodstuffs, handicrafts and all manner of rustic enticements, The Onion Factor caught our eye (and nose) and its vendor loved her onions and encouraged these into relish, sauces and pickles. Recommended.


While Claire went to the toilet/restroom/bathroom/bogga (strike out those not applicable to your cultural context), I, along with many others in a loose church of haybales, listened to a woman giving a talk/quiz on vegetables.


It was disconcertingly compelling and displayed the conditions necessary for a cult. The leader stood on a stage clasping assorted produce as we gazed dead ahead, unblinking and transfixed, drool appearing on some.


“Who can tell me the difference between squash and zucchini?” Narelle’s hand shot up, like she’s four and a people-pleaser.


And then, “What’s the name for this odd-looking vegetable?” Immediately, Doreen, late fifties, eager, bleats out, “Pimply pumpkin.”


It was like an old science-fiction film, but without the primitive laser beams.


Mercifully, Claire returned before I renounced my former life and surrendered my shoes and bank details.


With A1 and A2 back, we made a slow lap of the oval, admiring the marquees, footy and netball club stands, book counters, and local church volunteers giving away cakes and biscuits.


By the cricket pitch (hard, not turf) was a gazebo and under it a business was selling a dozen queen-size mattresses. Claire asked, “Who comes to a show to buy a bed?” I hoped at least a couple couples, but thought it unlikely. “Righto kids, let’s go to the show. You can have a toffee apple and go on some rides while Mum and Dad head to short mid-wicket on the town oval, and buy an ensemble. Later tonight, we’ll try to make you a sister.”


The cult of the Adelaide Hills wineries now draped its inescapable charisma over us, and we discovered ourselves on some stools sipping CRFT winery droplets. Situated in Carey Gully, I was taken by the Grüner Veltiner, an Austrian varietal that was snappish and elevating, suggestive of apple and autumnal breezes, perfect for hot afternoons down on the plains.


Detecting a yiros van on the half-forward flank fence, we became fixated. But, taking a break from their eating Olympiad, A1 and A2 later told us the yiros was gone. They scarpered off on their quest to leave penniless.


Not wishing to queue with the BBQ van crowd, we opted for the pasta truck. Reading the menu board Claire (a polymath) said, “Do you know what puttanesca means?”


I did not.


“It comes from the Italian for prostitute. It’s an appropriately frugal dish,” she continued.


Contemplating the Venetian vamp diet, we both ordered the carbonara. Claire had a kid’s serve ($7) while I went the adult ($12) although, as near as we could tell, for my extra coin I’d received three additional tubes of penne.


With local red wine in our stemless glasses (still unsure about this), we claimed our chairs by a wooden crate as, on the back of a truck, The Finns sang Irish songs. In a massive iron bucket, a fire was blazing, a nearby infant and his chin and his cheeks relished his spaghetti (sketti), close to us a dog slept and, off to the side, a toddler was stumbling about with her dad in outstretched pursuit.


It was an idyllic location and reminiscent of a Zeffirelli mise en scène.


Accompanying our merlot and pasta were stirring renditions of “Dirty Old Town” and “Black Velvet Band”. One of the backup singers rarely even used a tambourine and was more interested in his Coopers Pale Ale than harmonising, which I could partly understand. Doubtless, he’ll be asked to leave the band by Christmas, due to musical differences. However, the girls on the double bass and banjo were excellent.


The Finns comprise nine folk and vocals are shared, although one male chased but couldn’t catch the correct key. Claire noted he wasn’t quite Meatloaf at the Grand Final, but if he parachuted onto a cannibal island and started warbling, by the first chorus of “We’re Bound for South Australia” they’d have the pot boiling.


But it was a splendid afternoon of food, wine, music and mattresses. It’s how they love it in Ireland, Italy and Uraidla.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good


  1. Grand stuff. Mum and Dad lived just up the Uraidla hill on the way to Carey Gully for 20 years. Saw plenty of excellent Hills footy on the oval. Had dinner at the renovated Uraidla pub last year, and the adjoining mega bakery is a treat. Will be over in January to follow the Tour Down Under with a friend who is NZ senior Triathlon champ (sigh). He is riding in the Friday Challenge Race from Norwood to Murray Bridge. Suspect the support crew may not get past the first boozer at the top of the climb (Uraidla or Summit?) Bliss.

  2. So funny. And the company was splendid. It’s how they love it in Glenelg. X

  3. Growing up in the country as a kid, I can relate to much of what you write, Mickey. Especially liked the omnivore lads and the mattress angle. My bother used to win the odd prize for his broccoli at his local Show. Do they still feature work/projects by the local primary school kids?

  4. Thanks PB. Have heard good reports on the Uraidla pub and bakery so will visit those soon. Love catching a HIlls footy game- all fog and mist and murky action. Most atmospheric and always a treat.

    Someone- I suspect you’re correct.

    Ian- I reckon this was the first country show visit I’d made in excess of two decades and we didn’t see everything but I hope there was school involvement. Those competitions are a way of promoting jam making and quilting and other so-called domestic crafts. Great stuff.

    Thanks for reading and offering your thoughts.

  5. A good yarn, Mickey.
    I have not been to one of these country shows in many years.

  6. My colleague (and CWA member) tells me that the Uraidla Show won best for the state. I wonder if there’s differences across the states in how these are run. Does SA have a best fritz competition while NSW a best devon prize? Either way: food, wine, music; I reckon these might be of interest to you Smokie! Thanks.

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