1882 Easter Show established at Moore Park, Sydney

1930s map of the Royal Easter Show site at Moore Park. State Library of NSW

The Agricultural Society of New South Wales held its first exhibition in the year of its founding in 1822. Known initially as the Parramatta Fair, the forerunner of the Royal Easter Show continued annually until 1836 when the Society was disbanded.  The Society was revived in 1857 and in 1869 relocated its exhibition to Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park. In 1882, the Show moved to its long-term home at Moore Park, three kilometres southeast of the city.

The Moore Park site for the Easter Show was initially leased from the New South Wales Government, with the Society gaining title to the land in 1901.  In 1891, Queen Victoria granted the Agricultural Society and, by extension, its show, the right to use the title “Royal”. The Show was an annual event, except for during the Spanish flu outbreak in 1919 (when the pavilions at the showgrounds served as a temporary hospital) and during World War II when military training took place on the site.

The Dictionary of Sydney has a detailed account of the development of the showgrounds at Moore Park and the evolution of the Royal Easter Show. The Grand Parade, a feature of the Show, began in 1907. Many new buildings were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s, some of which now have heritage status.

Originally designed as a showcase for rural industries, the event expanded to encompass halls for manufacturers to exhibit their products, as well as “Sideshow Alley” with its rides and entertainments. By the 1920s, sample bags or “showbags had become a key attraction, especially for children.

The Show continued at the Moore Park site for the next 116 years. However, in the 1990s, the facilities required extensive upgrades and the Society decided to relocate the  Show to the Olympic Games precinct at Homebush. The first Easter Show at the new location took place in 1998. The event was interrupted again in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show is now the largest ticketed event in Australia, with more than 800,000 people visiting each year.

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