It's here! That most wonderful time of the year known as Ekka. Ferris wheels, dodgem cars, prize pigs, proud hens, giant pumpkins, shiny ponies, clown's mouths, stunt cars, wood chopping, craft shopping, whip cracking and lots of snacking.
Lots of snacking. Here's ten food and drink must-dos for the 2016 Royal Queensland Show. Time your run for the morning and you can knock 'em all over by the arvo, easy.
And yes, I am aware there is no fairy floss on this list. Does anyone really like fairy floss though? Really? Sure, it's fun to walk around with, but it also stickies fingers, colonises teeth and, on a windy day, gets caught in beards.
Blokes with beards eating fairy floss is a winning look, though, true.
Balter Brewing ALT Brown Ale, Craft Beer Taphouse
The promise of an Ekka-branded XXXX stubbie holder if you buy two or more Golds at the Cattleman's Bar is tempting, I'll give you that. And I'll probably own 20 by the time the show's over. But, for a slightly more rounded, balanced, tastier, toastier and nuttier beer, hit up Craft Beer Taphouse in the back corner of the Woolworth Pavilion for a tinnie of Balter Brown. Not only is it delicious, the brewery is based in Queensland and owned by surfing ledge Mick Fanning and his mates. Support your local brewer today!
The taphouse is also pouring local beer from Tenerife's Green Beacon plus brews brought to you from Two Birds, 4 Pines, Feral, and Napoleone cider.
Bertie Beetle showbag, Showbag Pavillion
A beetle rarely seen outside its natural habitat. Photo: Paul Harris
Ever seen a Bertie Beetle in the wild? Neither have we. This milk chocolate arthropod has been an exclusive to royal and regional shows since 1970 and the price hasn't changed too much since then, either - a bag of Bertie love will still only set you back $2. Dip your honeycomb-laced insect in a strawberry sundae for the ultimate Ekka experience. Maybe get some chips in there, too.
Dagwood Dog, pretty much everywhere
Let's be honest - the sausage meat in these savs is far from the quality of the purebred Berkshires competing for best swine in show. This doesn't make a Dagwood Dog (or, if you will, a Pluto Pup) any less of a must. If you can still see batter through a curtain of tomato sauce, you don't have enough sauce.
Devonshire tea, Country Women's Association
I'm all for disregarding the rulebook when it comes to eating. Food is supposed to be fun. Have at it. But please promise the lovely ladies from the Country Women's Association (located under the John McDonald Stand) that you will always spread jam on your scone first, then cream? ALWAYS. Warm CWA scones are like edible hugs and they're a necessity for Ekka and life.
Ekka Strawberry Sundae, various locations
Orrite. If there's one Ekka food essential it's these bad boys. No-nonsense wafer cone, locally made vanilla and strawberry ice-cream, fresh Queensland whipped cream and a Wamuran strawberry on top. This is the 27th year legends from the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation have volunteered to make the sundae and all proceeds fund research into health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, dementia, mental illness and arthritis. Sundaes for a cause!
Hot chips, also pretty much everywhere
Don't skimp on the chicken salt. Photo: Paul Harris
When you turn your nose up at show chips, you're turning your nose up at life. It's like declining the opportunity to pop bubble wrap or resisting the urge to wear a tea cosie as a hat when Nan's left the room. This is Ekka, not a health retreat, so get in there and stuff your face with blistering hot batons, preferably covered in chicken salt and enough vinegar to preserve a small donkey.
Queensland wine, Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion
Best for sangria. Photo: Paul Harris
There's a Sirromet Wine Bar, which is OK I suppose, but for a better selection of Granite Belt belters head over to the Woolies Pav. Golden Grove, Ballandean Estate, Summit and Riversand are all representing and pouring by the taster and full glass. I'm loving the pinot noir from Summit that's all black cherry and berries, and Golden Grove's durif that tastes like dusty licorice in the best possible way.
And if you're feeling festive, why not make a Sirromet Sangria? Grab one glass each of three Sirromet plonks (sauv blanc, shiraz and sparkling, say) and mix together in a decent-sized cup. An empty slushie vessel works well. Top up with Coke and a couple of strawberries before pouring back into the original wine glasses and sharing with mates. Delish!
RNA tasting plate, Gourmet Plaza
Can't decide which gold medal-winning animal to eat at the Royal Queensland Steakhouse? No meat sweats. The Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show truck has a $15 tasting plate featuring Tajima wagyu and carmelised onion sausage, Western Darling Downs 100-day grain-fed rib fillet, and a Milly Hill lamb cutlet that will have you frothing for juicy shiraz. Lucky there's plenty of the stuff around.
Tim-Tam-coated caramel apple, City of Logan stand
Yeah, you read that right. Just like a toffee apple, only with 100 per cent more Tim Tam. They're from Carcamos Gourmet Apple and the caramel is made from a secret recipe in a traditional copperpot. If you want one (and believe me, you do want one), you'll need to visit the City of Logan stand inside the Agricultural Hall and purchase a growers showbag for $20.
The bag also includes radishes, a punnet of strawberries, chocolate, a recipe book and spice courtesy of The Spice Exchange - a social enterprise where all products are proudly designed, produced and packed by refugee women in Queensland. Nice work, Logan.
Triple-cream cheese on toast, Bunya Cheese
There's cheese on toast, and then there's cheese on toast. The good folks from Queensland's Bunya Cheese company (you can also find them in the Woolie's Pav) are happy to toast their super creamy Bunya Gold cheese on garlic and herb sourdough for your pleasure. It's $5 and it's amazing.
If you fancy a meal-sized toasted sandwich instead, the Woombye Cheese Company champs an aisle over grill three types of cheese on bread with chutney and free-range pork. It's $12 and St Johns has defibrillators at the ready.
The Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) runs from August 5-14 at Brisbane Showgrounds, 600 Gregory Terrace, Bowen Hills. Tickets are available online at ekka.com.au