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It's a Big Bush BBQ

Posted on : 22 March 2019

It was lunchtime at the 2017 Illabo Show, the sun was shining, the gates were open and Bec Reyes and I were starving. We were assigned to help the dynamite Illabo volunteers with their Hoof and Hook Comp, and we’d worked up furious appetites pretending we knew what we were doing. Treating ourselves to a sausage sandwich, conversation quickly turned to how satisfying this simple lunch was.

Thin beef sausage, a good pile of grilled onions and a squirt of cold tomato sauce. I’m sure our fine food department would argue this isn't gourmet fare but, at that moment, we were in culinary heaven. After the Illabo Show, we’d suggested to Murray that we should have a BBQ at the Show, even if it was just to feed the staff. Our timing couldn’t have been better – in 2017 the RAS had decided that upping our regional engagement was a top priority, making it one of our organisation’s milestones. The idea sat with Murray for a few days, until he announced we could have our BBQ, on the proviso we staff it with volunteers from across NSW Show Societies with all funds raised going straight back home with them.

Our dream of a Show sausage sizzle was now a reality and six months, 17 regional communities, 9000 sausages, 500 kilos of onion and $43000 later, we’d survived our first Big Bush BBQ A lot went wrong, as things usually do in their inaugural years. Setting up the site in soggy conditions was making those last few days before the Show fairly miserable. Trying to pack Bec’s bright yellow Honda Jazz with nearly 100 packets of sausages was a sight to behold. Forgetting to buy enough knives was quite frankly the icing on the cake. But, of course, a lot went right. Besides raising well over $40,000 over the 12 days of the 2018 Show, the BBQ galvanised people into action and brought people to the Show with the excitement and energy that comes from having a sense of purpose.

The stories from the volunteers reminded us daily of why we were doing what we were doing. One bloke, from Queanbeyan, hadn’t been to the Easter Show since the seventies. He’d never seen the new Showgrounds as last time he had come the RAS was still based at Moore Park. Two neighbouring Show Societies came together and shared their day, so they could split their petrol costs and make sure they had enough people behind the counter because their pool of volunteers was so small. Not having access to power is something that we wouldn’t have to consider at the Showground - with the funds they raised at the BBQ, Cootamundra was finally able to install electricity in their pavilion and host the Cootamundra Hereford Heifer Show. In 2019, 16 societies from across the state are joining us at the BBQ. From down the South Coast to up by the Queensland border, these passionate and committed people will travel into town for their day wielding tongs, wiping away onion tears and manning the sauce bottles.

This year, to name a few, we’re raising money to enable agricultural education programs, to buy better equipment and infrastructure, to repair crumbling buildings and to install lighting in ticket booths so volunteers can see what they’re doing! Bec hit the nail on the head, telling me that speaking with some of those involved months later she was thrilled to hear that our dreams had truly helped make someone else’s come true.

Come and visit us during the Show, take a moment to say hello to those hosting and hear their stories. We can promise you that you’ll enjoy your sausage sandwich even more now you know that by buying it, you’re helping make a difference to a regional community. 

 

2019 BIG BUSH BBQ

12 April: Goulburn

13 April: Cowra

14 April: Morisset Lake Macquarie

15 April: Mendooran

16 April: Tenterfield

17 April: Neville

18 April: Albion Park

19 April: Singleton

19 April: Queabeyan

20 April: Kiama

20 April: Cootamundra

21 April: The Rock

21 April: Wagga Wagga

22 April: Bellingen

22 April: Dorrigo

23 April: Nowra

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