While WA footy fans were ironing their guernseys and dusting off their scarves ahead of the AFL grand final, the Perth Royal Show has made a triumphant return selling out as 60,000 people flock to the Claremont Showground.
The show kicked off this morning after being forced off the calendar last year due to coronavirus restrictions, with the first online-only ticketing system doing little to deter crowds.
By the time gates opened at 10am, lines of up to 50m long could be seen at the gates with plenty of children, adults and grandparents all keen for the fun to begin.
By midday, as the temperature soared to 20C, crowds filled the various avenues, bumper cars and other rides were packed, and all of the pavilions were bustling.
Organisers have reminded those keen to attend the week-long showcase of regional WA that tickets were still available for all other days of the show but that they must be purchased on line.
Royal Agricultural Society WA president David Thomas said today’s attendance had far exceeded expectations, with tickets selling out before midday.
“We had sold about three quarters of those tickets before the gates opened at 10am,” he said. “The AFL grand final has had no impact on us at all.
“We have had a few people turning up today, seeking tickets, which is difficult but there has been an opportunity to do so, if they come through a let in and let out system.
“It has just been fantastic and it makes my heart flutter a little bit to see so many people come and support the Perth Royal Show and I think anyone that does come along to the show this year will really enjoy themselves because there is so much to see and do.”
A walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic for first dose appointments was set up at this year’s show, with the clinic reducing the number of bookings to cater for the high number of show-goers with demand for a COVID jab.
Free buggy rides were also on offer from the information, education and booking hub – the Roll up for WA building — to the Tom Wilding Pavilion, where punters aged more than 12 can get a vaccination from 10am to 7pm throughout the show.
The State Government stumped up $4 million to support this year’s Perth Royal Show, helping to bankroll discounted tickets and supply more than 17,000 free tickets for marginalised and disadvantaged children and families, seniors, people with a disability and those from a culturally or linguistically diverse background.
With 314 showbags up for grabs, Coogee sisters Layla, 8, and Ka-lani, 10, Serret knew exactly what they wanted at this year’s show after scouting out the Perth Royal Show website before attending – the Slime Zone, Ultimate Fidget and Zappo showbags.
Parents Cadell and Samira Serret, and their older daughter Sascha, 10, make the trip to the show every three of four years and were hoping yesterday would be “quieter with the footy on”.
“We can’t believe how many people are here,” Cadell said.
“We’re often away on holidays but thought we’d come this year because the footy’s on and the weather was just perfect.”
Ka-lani said she was most excited to “go home and play with all of the things” inside her showbag.
With matching pink outfits and face painting, sisters Robyn Sharman, 3, and Ruby Bergin, 4, of Baldivis were most excited to see the chickens and ride on the chairlift at this year’s show.
Their mother Amy Beauchamp said it was the family’s first time at the show and the “beautiful weather” had inspired them to come along.
“I think everyone is really keen to get out after COVID stopping things happening last year,” she said. “The girls are old enough to enjoy it now and it’s a great day out.”
There was plenty on offer for children to learn about agriculture across the grounds.
Children could mill their own oats, dig for potatoes, milk a statue of a cow, pose with a tractor, write a message on the Thank a Farmer Wall, and take part in a range of virtual reality and other digital-based activities inside the Farm 2 Food pavilion.
A highlight was the annual scarecrow competition, which attracts entries from across the State. Hamersley Primary School scooped the top prize this year, with their large scarecrow which included paperbark and gum nuts collected from the school and a herb garden.
Parents had one less thing to worry about with QR-code wristbands available for kids for the first time, which included carers’ details when scanned.