There were the dog trials and competition classes ranging from art (which Mum won!) to livestock, produce, cut flowers, wool, pickles, preserves, cookery, sewing, handicraft and horseriding. And of course, the cold, drizzly weather that always seems to roll around for show day. But my favourite was the dining room.
In this long, corrugated iron shed, a team of volunteers produced beautiful cakes, slices, sandwiches and a proper ‘old-school’ beef stew for waves of punters throughout the day. The food was really good, really simple and full of love. Like all country shows, a huge amount of work goes into this one day of the year and all of it on a volunteer basis.
Since the early twenties, Rydal’s show has been held on the first Saturday of February every year (this was one of the few country shows that continued on throughout WWII). And it’s a really nice day out, so if you are keen to experience a little bit of of old-school country, please join us here next year. Rydal is about 20 minutes from Lithgow and 45 from Bathurst. There are plenty of places to stay in and around the area, or if coming from Sydney, you could base yourself in the Blue Mountains (Rydal is about 45 minutes from Katoomba).
And while you won’t find any show bags here, there are plenty of goodies to take home, from locally produced crafts to jams, jellies and preserves plus pens of ducklings and chicks (after a minor meltdown we managed to leave without the latter). Our prize purchase was a jar of lemon butter, the very same that came first in its class on the day.
We had friends for lunch yesterday so made a tray of meringues and put them on the table with the lemon butter, plums, peaches and a little cream. Lovely.
Lemon butter with meringues
This lemon butter recipe comes from Dianne Kelly of the Walgett and was printed in the fabulous, The Country Show Cookbook. Dianne’s recipe is unique to most curd or lemon butter recipes in that it uses the whole egg, not just yolks. But it must be pretty good because it won the Champion Exhibit, Jams and Preserves in the 2008 show.
For the lemon butter
juice of 6 lemons
rind of 2 lemons
Beat eggs with butter and sugar. Add lemon juice and rind. Put in a double saucepan and stir. Allow only to come to boiling point and remove from stove. Bottle and seal well.
For the meringues
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
zest of one orange
Preheat the oven to 110C and line two baking trays with paper. Place the egg whites in the (very clean) bowl of your electric mixer and whisk for about five minutes. Add the sugar, about a third at a time, and whisking well between additions. Whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy then fold through the orange rind. Spoon onto prepared trays, into nice generous rounds and then place in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes then turn the oven off and leave to cool (for at least an hour) in the oven (with the door shut). These will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Most country towns hold their own shows throughout the year, and AgShows NSW is a great resource of information for when and where. Or for more information on events in Country NSW, check out Destination NSW’s website.