THE SHOW must go on.
But the Newcastle Show might have to go on without the full accompaniment of amusement rides that make a show the real thing, as opposed to a bunch of sheds with big roosters, newborn chickens, an exhausted sow feeding cute piglets and some macramé wall art or other crafty capers. Quaint reminders of ye olden times before kids had transformed into screenagers with their TikToks and their Fortnites. Grrr.
The show-down between the Newcastle Agricultural Horticultural and Industrial Association and the Showmens Guild of Australasia over the amount to be paid by ride operators to access the show threatens to see a Newy show without the usual complement of vomitron 3000s and dizzyspin disorienters peppering sideshow alley.
Negotiations between the two organisations have a history of difficulty.
It's about dosh and crowd numbers. The bigger the crowd, the bigger the spend in sideshow alley. The Show Association's vice-president, Daniel Wallace, said on radio last week that the Guild "will always say they are never happy with the numbers, they'll always say they don't make money unless there's over 100,000 people in the show. There is no transparency when it comes to dealing with the Showmens Guild".
"The closest we got this year was having a chat with them whilst they were counting a lot of cash in one part of the showground," he added.
If crowds aren't flooding the show, there aren't mobs lining up for rides and the counting of a lot of cash in one part of the showground is severely interrupted. And the Newcastle show has - as long as I can remember - regularly managed to be an even more effective rain magnet than washing a car, a Surfest finals weekend, or a rugby international against Scotland at the International Sports Centre.
Last year the rain stayed away from the show and a record crowd just shy of 40,000 went through the turnstiles. It was the biggest crowd in Broadmeadow since 2011 when the Kangaroos played New Zealand in a rugby league test match. Great turn out, but how weather dependent was it?
Because heavy and consistent rain - like we just experienced at the weekend - is a major determinant on crowds to the show. Who wants to schlep round the show in the wet? Especially with a tribe of ankle biters screaming for more sugar and a pluto pup.
Just on pluto pups or dagwood dogs or battered savs ... why? Surely this suspicious mystery meat on a stick - camouflaged by flour drowned in burning oil - is a top contender for the most hideous gastronomic concoction to ever grace the insides of a bain marie award. There's those who swear by them and others who swear at them. Completely inedible unless drowned in dead horse, the pleasure they provide is brief compared to pain they provide if you cop a crook one. Extremely aesthetically challenging. No redeeming features. Just nah.
Back to the rides. Shows without rides are like pubs without beer or churches without sinners. Not the real deal.
Shows without rides are like pubs without beer or churches without sinners.
And that makes the suggestion by Mr Wallace that the show could go ahead without the rides somewhat perplexing. While the show has reduced costs of food and beverages and provides free entertainment - well, free in that such entertainment is included in the cost of admission - surely it is the rides in sideshow alley that furnish the show with its sense of carnival. Yes, the rides aren't cheap and a visit to the show can set a family with kids back a fair whack, but it has always been thus.
The rides are what the kids remember. Not the woodchop - although I can watch that for hours, love the woodchop. Humans belting into wood with axes. Marvellous.
The rides are what kids remember. Not the huge pumpkins or tame police exhibits.
And the adults share those memories.
I have joyous recall of the complete and utter look of horror on my then seven-year-old daughter's dial when she emerged from her first experience on a ghost train at the Sydney show. Probably the happiest I have ever been, seeing that face.
It gave her a healthy lifelong fear of the dark and an appreciation that monsters are real. It also meant no-one got an uninterrupted night's sleep in the house for months. Still worth it to have seen that face.
Let's hope the Guild and Association can work it out and there'll be a sideshow alley at the show.
Because we still need more rain.