Brisbane gears up for Ekka show fun
Ekka-goers and 10,000 animals are ready and waiting for today's opening of the Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane.
There will be a little extra emphasis on the "royal" at this year's show with the Spanish Princess Dona Teresa taking part in the horse judging.
The Princess is an international Arabian horse breeder and judge.
More than 500,000 patrons are expected to go through gates to see 10,000 animals and 300 entertainers.
More than 800 staff will keep Brisbane's Ekka running over the next 10 days, including vendors, volunteers, judges and stewards.
RNA president Dr Vivian Edwards says the grounds are ready for today's opening of Brisbane's 132nd Ekka.
"They'll be pristine, they'll be spotlessly clean," he said.
By the time it is over, show-goers will have munched their way through 350,000 dagwood dogs, 200,000 strawberry sundaes and 9,000 litres of tomato sauce.
The business end of the show gets underway with judging in the stud beef cattle and poultry competitions later today.
Organisers have introduced an online focus to this year's Ekka and are urging people to buy tickets and plan their days through the Ekka website.
They are also urging families that are under financial strain to cut costs by bringing their own lunch, and making the most of free events and attractions.
Ekka organisers say horse numbers are not affected by the recent outbreak of Hendra virus in south-east Queensland.
Five horses contracted the disease at the Redlands veterinary clinic.
Two workers remain in hospital after testing positive to the virus.
The owner of the clinic, Dr David Lovell, is the Ekka's chief horse vet.
But RNA president Vivian Edwards says despite recent problems in the horse industry, nearly 2,500 animals are expected at the showgrounds this year.
"The numbers of horses are about the same as last year and that's fascinating because straight after the Ekka - the equine influenza, the horse flu, was first diagnosed and for about six months our horse exhibitors were unable to compete," he said.
"We have had a very big influx of horses again so the numbers will not be down."
All the usual Ekka attractions are back such as woodchopping, animal showing, cake decorating and the baby animal farm.
There are some new and unusual events this year to keep crowds amused, including a schools' 'giant pumpkin' competition and a fruit and vegetable sculpting competition.
Enthusiastic quiltmakers have offered up 150 designs to be displayed at the Ekka.
The quilts range from traditional to modern prints and numbers have increased by 25 per cent on last year's entries.
Winner Beverley Sellers says quiltmaking is becoming one of the more popular events at the exhibition.
"Everybody can bring out their artistic side," she said.
"They can make something that's happy, friendly and enjoyable.
"They can get together with other people and make it a social type of event as well as being able to do something creative with their hands."