Have we mentioned how much we love a Country Show? And how much we love the country communities that come together to make them happen?  Here in the Barossa we are about to embark on our show season with Angaston, Tanunda and Mount Pleasant all hosting their shows in the next six week period.  The fact that these shows all occur together is no coincidence and is a heritage artefact from the days when a town show was all about showcasing regional produce and skills. Barossa’s heritage as a fruit growing region meant that the height of fruit and grape harvest was the time to show off the best produce and advertise the highest skill and mastery of your craft – and so here we are.  150 years later and we are still celebrating our regional shows in the midst of grape vintage, amongst prolific crops of stone fruit and vegetables.  It’s a cycle that remains largely unbroken, albeit occasionally hiccuped due to world wars and global pandemics.

It’s still the best day to see our community come together to celebrate everything that is great about our regions and to see the competition play out in the show hall.  There are amateur wine making competitions, veggie growing, photography, handicrafts, animal breeders, egg producers, sheep fleeces, flower arrangements and our favourites, the cookery and preserves section.  We love seeing who has won what, who beat who, who has retained a title and who’s entry absolutely flopped.  (like the magnificent grape cheesecake entered several years ago by one of our regional star bakers that started the day as a spectacular demonstration of baking skill, but slowly dissolved in the heat into a purple puddle of sticky sweet cheese)  And the blokes chocolate cake competition and the “sportsmanship” that goes on as the cricket club boys go head to head with the footy club for the $200 prize money………

It’s all about the skill, the mastery, but most importantly, the fun.    As our gorgeous friend Ella from the Angaston show committee says, “the Show Hall is what the community make it’.  And our community makes it awesome.

It’s a passion and a connection that we are keen to see shared across other communities, and the best way to do that is to get involved in your local show in whatever way you can.  It might be that your support is by purchasing a ticket and spending a few hours immersed in your community, marveling at the skills and the mastery of a craft.  It might be putting your hand up to help as a volunteer convener, steward, or gate keeper.  Or maybe on the Committee itself?  Or maybe your role is to encourage the immersion and engagement by entering goods in a competition.  And this is where we come in!  We love show competitions and the good natured and light-hearted fun that they represent.  Lots of people take show baking very seriously and take home very prestigious prizes, and to those people we tip our hats in respect, because that is true mastery worthy of every recognition.  But the two of us don’t do fancy and we don’t have time for complicated, so our entries are always very simple and lots of fun.  And that’s what we want to encourage others to share as well.  Don’t be intimidated by the competition and the thought that you need to be a good baker, because none of that is true.  You simply need some enthusiasm and a desire to be involved, and we can guarantee that the combination of those things will mean you walk away a winner, even without a ribbon.  (And look, if you do happen to win a ribbon, wear it work like a sash.  With pride.  I have been known to hang mine in the kitchen and point to them whenever anyone chooses to complain about a meal or an overcooked cake.  When they’ve got one of their own they can criticise me.  Until then, zip it)

To encourage people to set aside their inhibitions about getting involved we ran a ‘Show Entries’ event in the Bethany church hall several weekends ago.  It was a great fun and casual event where we had a guest judge (Vaughan Wilson, also a champion baker in his own right) who critiqued some of our preserves, jams and sauces, as well as a small line up of baked goods.  The audience were talked through what judges are looking for and how they decide on winners.

The day was fabulous and as always, we love meeting new keepers and chatting to them about the things they are doing and find successful.  But mindful of the fact that geography means not everyone can visit in person, we also recorded a condensed version last week.  If you’ve been waiting for this on-line version you can follow the link below to watch it.  Run time is approx 45 minutes and we will chat you through all the basic things to think about, and hopefully inspire you to give it a go.

In the meantime we are busy preparing for the Angaston show next weekend where we are hosting a preserving workshop with Maggie Beer who is joining us as our special guest.  Tickets to this event very quickly sold out, but at the conclusion of the workshop Marieka and I will host a free presentation about the history of the Barossa Cookery Book and the women who created it.  This presentation is free to all, so if you missed tickets to the workshop join us for the presentation instead!

If you follow us from interstate and cant get to the show, fear not, there will be plenty of pics on our social channels for you to vicariously enjoy the experience.

The 11th of March then sees us throw ourselves into the fray of the competition tables at the Tanunda Show.  Marieka is convening a few sections at the show in the morning, and then we will enjoy seeing judging of the cake and preserves section.  Marieka always wins lots of recognition in the Rote Grutze (traditional Barossa Desert) while Sheralee has a ribbon to defend in the German Yeast Cake.  If you are in South Australia come along and join in – both the Angaston and Tanunda shows are heaps of fun, and you’ll definitely find both of us flitting around amongst show halls, competition tables and lots of awesome people.

So that’s it from the Barossa during show season.  The skies are big, the paddocks are golden, the vines are green, and vintage is hitting its straps.  As the sun beats down during a hot week, we send our thanks and appreciation for another season of abundance, the skills with which to keep it all, and the keepers who join us on this journey to celebrate all that is beautiful in all of it.

Happy Keeping, Keepers.



The dictionary defines a ‘keeper’ as a person charged with responsibility for the preservation and conservation of something valuable, but being a keeper is also a doing word.

We are the keepers.  The keepers of the traditional food skills, the regional food stories, the new ways of doing old valuable things.  And every year, at this time and in this season, we lead the way.

You.  Me.  Us.

We are the keepers.


Click HERE to view the Show Entries Video