Why the Royal Show rocks

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Pietermaritzburg - With the sun baking down and without a cloud in the sky, this Royal Show rookie was clearly overdressed in a cardigan and trousers.

Walking through the entrance winter seemed to evaporate, making way for an intense and dry heat.

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The Ferris Wheel at the Royal Show stands out among the rest of the rides and is one of the few that dont send you flying into orbit at a rapid velocity. Pictures: PHILIP WILSON and SIBUSISO NDLOVUYoung daredevil, Michael, slides down the zip line above the Dorpspruit at the Royal Show. Karkloof Canopy Tours introduced the zip line for the first time this year.Prize cattle compete for prizes at the Royal Show. Strange for a city-slicker, but oddly engrossing.Slicing through gigantic blocks of wood? Nothing out of the ordinary at the Royal Show.Show jumpers canter along on their horses, gliding in unison over the gates that stand between them and a perfect score.Full-time fiddler Mark Schonau picks tunes as you enter the Royal Show, entertaining all and sundry.

Fortunately, the Royal Show is prepared for any such eventuality and this reporter was able to find an ice cream in less than five minutes.

Variety is what makes the Royal Show stand out from any other fair.

You may be lucky enough to hear full-time fiddler Mark Schonau as you enter the Royal Show. He’s been busking there since 1988 and plays a medley of tunes for all who walk through the gates.

He takes pride in sharing his music with people, and when he’s not playing, he teaches those eager to learn.

Wandering through a plethora of different farming equipment, none of which a city slicker like myself could handle, I ended up staring at a selection of the finest commercial cattle being judged with a crowd of eager onlookers nearby.

Bulls, reared purely for competition purposes, stand quietly next to their proud handlers.

Twenty bulls circle the judges as they pick the finest of the crop, based on a host of parameters I struggled to fathom. Nevertheless, it was engrossing.

Kids have plenty to do at the Royal Show too.

The FunZone plays host to a number of zany funfair rides with exotic names like The Oriental Express, Rhythm Bounce and Crazy Wave.

Loud music blares through speakers as people are tossed this way and that, screaming in delight on brightly coloured rides.

The ferris wheel stands tall among the rides, but the general idea is being flung around like a ragdoll.

You can choose between flying through the air on a giant trampoline, being hurled around in circles or flying up and down at varying, scary velocities.

Fun can be measured by the size of the smiles of those beaming adrenaline junkies when the rides come to a standstill... though I would save eating for afterwards.

Karkloof Canopy Tours have brought a zip line to the Royal Show for the first time, and every now and then while walking between stalls, you can spot an eager participant flying through the air.

It adds an element of excitement to the already fun-rich experience, and people of all ages are eager to strap on a harness and whoosh above the Dorpspruit (a stream that runs through the Royal Showground).

Further along an equestrian course held a competition for horse riders who made their way elegantly across the obstacles.

Rider and steed in perfect sync, the competitors take turns gliding effortlessly through the air and above the gates that they challenge themselves with.

The relationship riders share with their horses is most apparent as they prepare for their run, and it makes for compelling viewing.

A military stand allows show-goers to see the inner workings of military vehicles such as the Ratel command vehicle (named after the tenacious honey badger), and ask experts about how these incredible machines work.

South African war veterans make eager and willing hosts. The men and women who serve on the battlefront are patient with questions asked about their dangerous professions.

The Royal Show offers a great amount to eat too.

Making a decision on what to shovel down the gullet is perhaps the most difficult decision to make.

The aromas that waft from the different food stalls are all enticing, and whether you crave something healthy or not, there is definitely something to temper those taste buds.

It has only just begun, and there is still a week of activity happening at the Royal Show, running till May 31.

Pietermaritzburg-based band FireTree will be jamming a blend of indie and hard-rock at the #RoyalRock show tonight, ensuring that the momentum kicks on.

With a smile on my face and an ice cream stain on my shirt, I’m happy to report the show is very much worth a visit. - Independent on Saturday

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