An Ekka Love Story
Every August is an exciting time for Queenslanders as the Ekka comes around, offering fun rides, carnival foods, parades, cattle and farm animal showcases and of course showbags! It's an exciting time for all but especially for those who have found something... or we should say, someone special, at the Ekka.
This is exactly what happened for our two halves of Merino Country, Kerrie and Mal. For years both Kerrie and Mal had been coming to Brisbane at Ekka time to catch up with friends from both the country and the city and enjoy the delights of the best of Queensland Agriculture. Little did they know that they were often in the same venue but didn't connect until 2001 when they met in the Stockman's Bar and the rest, as they say is history! Their's is not the first Ekka Wedding - as reported by ABC Radio journalist Edwina Seselja - click here to read more.
Kerrie & Mal married in August 2002- an Ekka Romance resulting in a Wool Wedding... of course!
Kerrie & Mal - at the EKKA in August 2022 (Farmer met his wife!)
CITY MEETS COUNTRY
The Ekka is a great way to bring Rural Australia to the City. Here at Merino Country we are lucky to have a mix of country and city folk. We interviewed Mal, Faye & Kerrie to ask them why they attend the Ekka every year.
Mal -The Country Bloke
Mal, our Co-Owner and machine specialist at Merino Country, was a cattle and grain farmer from Jandowae - a small town with population of 1047 people located in the Western Downs Region of Queensland.
"We would go to the Ekka every year as there wasn't much to do out in our small country town. It was a little dry in every aspect so we would look forward to going into the city for a catch up with mates from all over the country. It was a meeting spot for industry to get together over a pint and chat about agriculture. We would hang out at the Cattleman's Bar where you could get a good feed and drinks. We'd head down to a nearby pub after the Ekka closed and keep chatting for hours. It's a fond memory & now a days I still get out there for Ekka Lunch and catch ups."
Faye - The City Gal
Faye, the City Girl, makes your clothes.
Faye is a local Brisbane gal and one of our long time machinists. She is one of the women who sew our clothing and underwear with many years of experience. Faye enjoys going to the Ekka every year so we asked her why she likes to attend the Ekka.
"We enjoy going to the Ekka as a family! We would get there in the morning when the gates open and stay all day until the gates closed. I love to see the talent and skill of local Queenslanders and enjoy visiting the pavilions with arts and craft, the beautiful cake entries, the fruit and vege displays are a great sight to see too! I'm not a big fan of the rides but one game I enjoy is the Climbing Monkey game where you have to donk the climbing mokeys before they get to the top. There are some great causes to support too including the RSL and Hospital lucky envelopes. And of course we enjoy the night shows where there is music and fireworks. Its a great day out with the family and my cheeky pleasure is to get a bucket of fairy floss on my way out. "
Kerrie - The Girl from the Bush
Kerrie is from a Sheep & Cattle station in North West Queensland and started her clothing company, Merino Country, in 1993 in response to drought and low wool prices. The Ekka was the first Royal show that Merino Country exhibited at and has since been at most of the major Royal Shows in Australia both exhibiting and participating in their wool parades.
"I've been going to the Ekka for most of my life and from it have have had some incredible experiences and amazing opportunities that have had a big impact.
I still remember my first time I went to the Ekka with my family - the crowds were unbelievable. We drove down from Richmond in North West Queensland and I was probably about 8 and one of the things I remember is Dad having to get some cash from on an on-site bank with an ATM and of course we went to see the wool exhibition and beef cattle because that's what we produced!
In later years when I was going to University in the big smoke, I used to go to the Ekka every year to catch up with friends from out West and in the early years we always started at the Cattlemen's Bar and it was compulsory to watch the Wool Parades as we walked pass on the way out to the Jubilee Hotel. Mal & I often compare stories and we would have both been coming for years at the same time and often knew the same people but didn't meet until a lot later.
I started Merino Country in 1993 and our first year exhibiting at the Ekka was in 1994 in the John Reid Pavilion and every year after that for many years in the Wool Pavilion. Those early years were amazing with so many innovative wool products developed mainly by wool growers being shown and made accessible to city people for the first time.
Sunday Mail, August 1998
In 1998 and 1999 I ran the Wool Parades with our "Spinning Yarns" and "Sheep Dreams" themes showcasing the variety of wearable wool products being made locally. We did things a little differently with an educational theme of why wool is so good to wear whilst using models, dancers and performers to create a fun, entertaining and memorable promotion of the Australian and Queensland Wool industry in particular.
Courier Mail, 1998. "Spinning Yarns - A Wool Love Story" organised by Kerrie in 1998
In early 2001, the RNA (Ekka Organisers) sponsored me to go to the Commonwealth Agricultural Society Conference in Durban in South Africa where I presented a paper on Value Adding and how we were promoting Merino wool through the Shows. This is where I met Prince Philip & Lord Vesty and not only had lunch with them but where we worked together on how to make Royal Shows relevant - I even got invited, & attended, Buckingham Palace back in London.
I was living down in Ballarat in 2001 but decided to come back up and have my yearly Merino Country stand in the Wool Pavilion. On the last Friday a heap of Vendors always used to donate product to be auctioned off in the Stewards Bar to raise funds for the Disabled Riding Association, and on this occasion, ended up in the Stockman's Bar afterwards and this was where Mal & I met and then married in August 2002. The rest is history!
The people I have met over the years through the Ekka have been incredible and played a huge role in both my personal and business life and we always look forward to catching up with a variety of people including friends, customers, exhibitors and so many others at Ekka time. Oh yes and you've always got to have a Strawberry Sundae and a Dagwood Dog!"
The Ekka runs until Sunday, 14 August.