At the Show

Every year, when I was a child, Wellington’s Winter Show Buildings hosted an extravaganza of product display, inside, and kid’s fun out the back.

Without question it was the highlight of my winter, not only because I got to stay up late but because I could eat rubbish in the form of candy-floss, toffee apples and chips with my mother’s approval. I could go on rides. Multiple times. I could enjoy being frightened in the Ghost House and shaken to bits in the bowels of the Crazy House too. And I could scream as loud as I wanted and not be accused of being a scaredy cat.

now what? (mrs carmichael's mother)
now where? (mrs carmichael’s mother)

I could ride an exotic horse as it rose and fell with grace in a wide circle as the music played and my parents caught my smile every 360. I could ride the big, white, outside horse while my younger cousin B…. was relegated to the back stalls.

cousin B.... in the baby seats (mrs carmichael's mother)
cousin B…. in the baby seats (mrs carmichael’s mother)

I loved the Merry-Go-Round and still do. It’s still my favourite ride at any theme park. It’s a shame my daughters are too old to want to join me now.

mrs c on her white charger still taking the time to tell someone else what to do (mrs carmichael's mother)
mrs c on her white charger even then taking the time to tell someone else what to do (mrs carmichael’s mother)

Inside the Show Building’s was that year’s new fangled gadgetry that Mum and Dad made me look around before I was allowed outside.

There was also a lot of farm equipment as I recall. This was New Zealand and the 60’s and we were (and are) a farming nation.

I would drag my parents as fast as I could up and down the aisles displaying Fridgadaire’s latest freezing compartment, oven and washing machine, the newest record player on the block and bales of hay covered in ploughing and packing product.

I don’t think we bought our automatic washing machine at the Winter Show but I do remember Mother taking way too long discussing its pros and cons with a suited salesman. There were no cons apparently. We had the same one for the next sixteen years. It rusted but never broke down.

I could have cared less. I wanted to be outside in the real action getting sticky and coated in sugar.

Outside were the Kewpie dolls. Oh, still my beating memories. Every year I chose a Kewpie doll on a stick. Why were they on sticks? For decorative purposes only, I guess. Regardless I had to have one. And wish I still did.

blue tutu Kewpie on stick (
blue tutu Kewpie on stick (
Kewpie heaven (
Kewpie heaven (
back to the future (
back to the future and braver than me (

Dad would take me on the Dodgems. We called them Bumper Cars then and they looked subtly different to the models of today. I was too scared to drive which, looking back, probably pleased my father. He always liked driving.

And then there was the Ferris Wheel, the bane of my fair going experience. Every year Dad would suggest the Ferris Wheel and every year I would demur. The whole thing, thought and reality, terrified the red duffle coat off me. It still does. I don’t like Ferris Wheels and regret every one I’ve ever been pressurised onto. That frisson of fear unbounded, unlike the ‘terror’ of a house-full of ghosts. Even the London Eye makes me queasy. And that’s the truth.

In no way could the Winter Show compare to the theme parks of today. My children would laugh, I’m sure, at the paper hats and the paucity of rides but I still get butterflies when I see a Merry-Go-Round and remember those winter nights in July when I chose my steed and galloped in time to the music.

Posted for The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.

27 thoughts on “At the Show

  1. Oh, nostalgia! Loved your post…brilliant trip back. Oh, and Bumper Cars! And that, as I recall, was the idea. To Bump. When it became Dodgem’s, and many years later I took to the wheel of one of these things, still driving like a demon into anything and everything in my way, I got Told Off!! Well, I thought, if I am sensibility personified on the road, I might have some fun at the fairground….

  2. Awww, what an adorable trip down memory lane. Mrs. carmichael looks so cute riding the merry-go-round. I’m always enticed by a Ferris wheel, but then once I’m captive in one, I too, like you, am terrified!! I loved the bumper cars and I don’t know why, but I always loved the swing too. Although in later years, (aka 5 years ago!) I was terrified of the swings! Nice post and pictures. 🙂

    1. yep, swings make me sick now.

      My nadir with a Ferris wheel was at a military ball in the City of London (goodness knows what mrs c to be was doing there with so many men in uniforms) but having imbibed a little to much and somehow finding myself at the top of the turn with a groping stranger (ish) I attempted to climb down.

      Thank heavens I was stopped.

  3. What wonderful memories. The Kewpie dolls brought back memories of my own. We lived in a very small town but every year would go to the city to go to the circus. Every year I would buy a Kewpie doll there. Thanks for the memories.

  4. Lovely story mrsc. It brought back lots of memories. We were at a show once and I went on some spinning around ride with my Dad. I remember laughing hysterically from beginning to end. The same rides are still at our shows every year, but these days the cost is prohibitive.

  5. The memories come flooding back thicker than Tokyo’s summer humidity. My dad was into country fairs and the only downside to that was the seemingly hours and hours in the car getting to them. I remember the cotton candy and caramel apples. I remember a very long, rusty slide we went down on burlap sacks. And lots of accordions (another downside). I still love Merry-go-rounds and also can no longer stomach the swings.

    There’s a small amusement park in east Tokyo that boasts of an old fashioned atmosphere. You may have given me the motivation to finally give it a visit, although I fear that my view of old fashioned may not click with what’s available here.

      1. What is it that we are calling differently? Oh, cotton candy? And caramel apples? Not to split hairs, toffee and caramel are not the same thing. And the apples were actually covered with some shiny red sugary stuff but I can’t remember what it was called.

      2. Ah, they were called candy apples. Google that, but only if your stomach is feeling steady.

        Variety is the spice of life, no?

  6. OMG. The photos! The ‘Nola” commentary; The “Keith” being a bloke with his girl! So lovely. The Winter Show Building is now the NZ Drama School – Toi Whakaari. So drama in the 60s and still going on today.

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