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It's Show Time!

The Royal Darwin Show has a long history steeped in tradition in the Top End, bringing the community together and inspiring generations of Territorians. 

By Tamara Howie

When you think of the Royal Darwin Show, what gets you excited? Is it checking out the plucky poultry, scrumptious cakes and larger-than-life vegetables? Perhaps it’s scoring yourself some goodies in the form of a show bag or feeling that adrenaline rush whilst whizzing around on the rides in side-show alley?

Although it might sound cliché, the Royal Darwin Show really does have something for everyone – even flying pigs! Well, almost flying pigs… We’ll get to that soon.

Royal Agricultural Society of the NT Chief Executive Officer, Cherry Court, has been involved since the mid-90s, from showing [champion] chooks and turkeys, to making sure the Show runs without a hitch. Not to mention wildlife wrangling by the grounds crew when the occasional children’s python finds a home onsite.

But it’s the positive impact on the people in the Top End that really drives the hardworking team who make magic happen every year.

“It’s a community celebration – that’s how we view it. We’re a fairly diverse community up here and we’ve got people from all over the world. We see that demonstrated in the stallholders. It doesn’t matter what your back-ground is or what country you come from, you’re part of the community here,” Court says. 

“We’re also the keepers of tradition. You can come here and learn how the pioneers made tools and churned butter, or see patchwork, lace making or cake decorating, and even spear throwing – these are skills that are handed down from one generation to the next.”

There’s also the tradition of excellence. Earning a ribbon in any of the competitions is a point of pride, whether it be for the best cat or cattle.

“If you get that red, white and blue Royal ribbon it means something,” Court says.

Pigs will be hoggin’ all the fun and fame for this years’ theme, inspired by the Chinese Year of the Pig. Expect to see the porky influence as you trot through all areas of the show – from swine-inspired cakes, craft and, of course, one of the most popular events each year – the racing and  diving pigs.

MTV Racing and Diving Pigs Manager, Sharleen Vandeleur, says the talented piglets have been in training for the last month to hone their skills. 

“The racing pigs go through four weeks of training and the diving pigs spend six weeks training in our purpose built training facility. They’re all hand picked from a thousand little piggies. They’re highly intelligent with so much personality. It’s interesting going through the training process  so you get to see their little personalities that shine through,” she says.

Vandeleur says the racers have been a popular attraction for more than 10 years at the Royal Darwin Show, with new piglets busting their bacon around the track every year.

“We’re a long-standing family act and it’s something everyone can get in to and enjoy. Most people think it’s just for kids but the majority of  our audiences are adults,” she says.

Head on down to watch the pigs fly.

Royal Darwin Show 

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