Sydney Royal Easter Show: Inside the weird and wonderful lives of the workers on the road

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The Sydney Royal Easter Show has been bringing smiles to children’s faces for decades, but beyond the animals and show bags, there’s an entire close knit community that brings the show to life.

Show people are the heart and soul of big events, be it Sydney’s Easter Show or Melbourne’s Moomba.

Richard Robertson has been working in the industry for 23 years, travelling as far as Cairns and Perth with his clowns game.

Originally from Geelong in Victoria, Mr Robertson said he got into the business to move away.

“Just as a kid I had to get away from town,” he said.

“When I was younger I knew if you couldn’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

The highlight of his job that makes him keep coming back everyday is “making the kids smile”.

As far as life on the road goes, he said there’s a good relationship among show people.

“We have to get along, if not we just don’t go out with them.”

Nadine Wine, who works at the Dyls Thrills and Rides Hoops Basketball game, shed a further light on the community of show people, saying they’re a close bunch.

“It’s like family, like extended family,” she said.

“We all look after each other. We go to all different shows, and it’s great because you’re not going there and not knowing anyone.

“If I have something I need help with, they’ll help me, if they need help, I’ll help them. We all work together.”

Like Mr Robertson, the best part of her job is making children happy.

“I like seeing the smiles on kids faces when they win,” she said.

Ms Wine has been in the industry for 14 years, however the O’Neill family has been in business for longer than Ms Wine and Mr Robertson combined.

Their show business history dates back to just after World War Two, spanning four generations.

Dylan O’Neill said his grandfather’s side of the family are show people, explaining that everyone travelled together by train back in the day, which paved the way for a special romantic beginning.

“My nan was a dancer … my grandfather was a showman, and they met on the show train on the way to Cairns,” he said.

While Mr O’Neill grew up in Sydney, with the days of show trains well and truly over, he said being 43 years old, he’s worked in the business for 43 years.

“Being open, being busy, it’s a bit of a buzz,” Mr O’Neill said.

“Normally people are happy, some aren’t,” he joked.

“The last few days drag out a bit when you’re busy and flat out, it’s a bit of an adrenaline buzz.”

He and his family are based in Sydney and work the major events there, but also head down to Melbourne for Moomba.

They run the Wacky Worm roller coaster that no doubt every child has been on at Moomba and the Easter Show.

They also have a new business, Wacky Apples, that flaunts just that: wacky apples coated with toffee, caramel, sprinkles, and all sorts of toppings.

The show certainly brought smiles to faces, like Ollie Callahan, who was happy to get up close to some parrots.

His favourite part of the day was going on the rides, including the big slide and a funhouse.

Seeing lots of baby animals was another highlight for the youngster, who also got to ride a pony.

For Ella, three, and Leo, four, this year marked their very first time at the Royal Easter Show, a “nostalgic” special moment for mum Louise Shinners.

“A lot of exciting first times,” she said, with the kids happy to get their hands on their first ever show bags.

“It is a very nostalgic experience coming back with your own, the next generation of kids,” she said.

It’s been a big day for the little ones, who went on their first ride (the dumbo elephant) on their first outing without a pram.

“We sort of had ambitions to go do things, like I wanted to go to the baby animals because I remember going and my little sister trying to eat a baby chick,” Ms Shinners recalled.

The show was full to the brim of different attractions and events, from miniature goat shows to dog shows and wood chopping.

This year marked 125 years of wood chop competitions at the Royal Easter Show, and the first year that men and women were awarded equal prize pools for individual categories.

People lined up at market stalls to pick up all manners of unique items, including leather bags, jewellery, hats and belts.

Others were eager to snap up a selection of fresh produce and specialty food and beverages at the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome.

But the rides and attractions were no doubt a highlight for many people, with screams and cheers heard all throughout the showgrounds as people were thrown up into the air on various rides.

Despite this year’s show not falling over the school holidays, there were no shortage of people in the lead up to the long weekend.

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