Children darting among carnival stalls, showbags in hands, racing between the dodgem cars and petting zoos, excited to soak in the country smells most have never experienced before. Families moving from food truck to food truck, enjoying the deep fried chips/cheese/frankfurts/lasagne/waffles ‘on-a-stick’, the airy fairy floss and the taste of dole whip and fresh lemonade, made sweeter in the blazing heat of a March weekend.

A whirlwind ride on a roller coaster, then a seat enjoying the excitement of the woodchopping contest or the show jumping.

There is no other place where you can ride a ferris wheel and shop for food, fashion and farm animals, while enjoying a lama shearing demonstration and the judging of the best rhubarb pie – all before lunchtime. The Royal Easter Show once again brought the charm of country NSW to the city.

Easter show map

Indispensable, the free Show map. Photo: Annika Legg

Organised by the NSW Royal Agricultural Society, the Easter Show has been an annual Sydney event since 1823 and remains as big as ever, with almost 800,000 people attending this year across the 12 days.

The popularity of the Show in 2024 was made more surprising by the cost-of-living crisis, which also saw a big spike in prices for the usual Show staples.

To get into the Show, an adult ticket cost $45 and a child’s $28, although a family ticket for kids and two parents averaged out around $32 a head. Rides were around $10, not too bad, but a corn dog could set you back as much as $15 at some stalls, and the cost of drinks was often double the price outside the Sydney Olympic Park showgrounds.

Fair game

Photo: Annika Legg

For lunch, you’re looking at $18 for a burger or over $20 for pasta. Despite a cup of lemonade setting you back $9 under, the merciless sun, (there being little shade at the Show) around 1,000 cups a day are sold.

Tokens for rides were up this year from $1 each to $1.20 with kids rides starting at 5 tokens, while some of the more thrilling rides cost up to 30 tokens. Pricey for a family of four.

And while many come to the Show prepared to fork out over the odds money for the experience, others bemoaned the priciness.

Cheyenne, 25, who recently moved to Australia from Canada, said whilst she loved the atmosphere of the Show she was shocked by some of the prices.

“I was surprised by the cost of food and rides, I would have gone on a lot if they were cheaper,” she added.

“[And] about how much there was to look at, I thought it’d be more of just a regular carnival, but it had everything. We have fairs and stuff back home, but nothing like this.”

Ferris Wheel

The Ferris wheel took 20,000 spins across the event. Photo: Annika Legg

Showbags remain a staple of the Easter Show and this year they remained fairly reasonable priced, ranging from $5 for a Bertie Beetle to $36 for reputable brands such as Nude by Nature, Miss Coco and The Consciousness store. Many of the higher end showbags purportedly offered merchandise worth as much as $180 for just $35.

This year saw a record 403 different showbags available for purchase, with 1.3 million sold during the Show.

And while some show-goers were disappointed to see the classic Bertie Beetle bag of chocolate go up in price from $2 to $5, most claimed they still couldn’t resist purchasing the Aussie classic.

Having the Show run outside of the school holidays this year meant daily attendance lacked consistency, with much bigger turnouts over the Easter weekend.

Rochelle, who has been working in the offices of the Easter Show for over eight years, told Central News the Easter long weekend had been one of the busiest she’s seen.

“Because it’s not in school holidays this year, the numbers really differ day to day,” she said. “We’re ranging between 28,000 on weekdays to around 110,000 on public holidays, so it’s a huge difference.”

Lines in the Showbag Pavilion

There was barely room to breathe in the Showbag Pavilion on Easter Sunday. Photo: Annika Legg

The busiest day was Good Friday which saw 122,956 attend, followed by Easter Sunday with just over 100,000.

The numbers are great for the Show but left many attendees feeling jammed in.

Karen came to the Show with her three kids for the first time this year and despite enjoying the Show, wasn’t too fond of the crowds and lack of control.

“The crowds are really annoying. There’s not a lot of competent people somedays,” she said.

Lines in the Showbag Pavilion

Queues into the Showbag Pavillion. Photo: Annika Legg

Naomi, 30, from Sydney, has made it a tradition to come to the Show every year with her grandparents and noted an increasing difficulty for them to get around, especially on the busier days.

“There’s a lot less moving room. It’s not as accessible. For example, today at the woodchopping, my grandparents can’t sit together because my grandma’s in a wheelchair and there’s no accessible seating at the back,” she said. “It’s just become a lot harder to move about.”

Despite these issues, Rochelle said the Show made an effort to crowd control and ensure people had the most enjoyable experience possible.

“Crowds are monitored, and numbers are capped,” she added. “We’re trying our best to control it but unfortunately if people make a choice to come on public holidays, they kind of have to expect some lines.”

Petting zoo

Pictured: Michaela visiting the petting zoo between watching her husband’s events. Photo: Annika Legg

Michaela, who comes to the Show every year to support her husband in the woodchopping arena, said she admired her husband’s love for the community and sense of tradition that comes with the Easter Show competitions.

The Show started as a way to show off the agriculture and animals of country Australia and has expanded to a place of thrill rides, showbags and some of the ‘greatest’ foods you’ve ever had… on-a-stick!

The chip-on-a-stick is the most popular choice for attendees, with over 100 tonnes of potatoes used across the course of the Show.

Chip on a stick

The Show has become famous for its atmosphere and crazy foods. This year saw fruits, chicken nuggets and even lasagnes on a stick! Photo: Annika Legg

And, everyone seems to have a different favourite part.

Art pavillion

Cheyenne was amazed by the range of art, fashion and cake decorating displayed at the Show. “My favourite part was probably the art exhibitions, I loved how much was represented there, lots of great stuff to look at,” she said. Photo: Annika Legg

Naomi loved that the Show was still a great place to take her grandparents and feels it had something for all ages to enjoy.

“It’s definitely become more commercialised with rides and toys and whilst a lot of the RAS events have become less important now, I think for the older people it’s still important to have them here. It will always be a great Australian celebration,” she said.

Woodchopping event

The Woodchopping event this year celebrated 125 years at the Easter Show and is still one of the most popular events. Photo: Annika Legg

Despite some complaints surrounding crowd control, everyone Central News vox popped said they would come back to the Show next year, and that the experience was well worth it.

“This was the perfect Easter Sunday. I can’t wait to come back next year,” said Cheyenne.

Photos by Annika Legg.