You can almost taste the candy floss, smell the poultry barn and hear the looped cries of ‘‘get your dagwood dogs’’ over Sideshow Alley screams.
Yes, the Ekka is here again. If you’ve decided to dip your toe into the heaving human mass of families, Drizabones and showies here’s what you need to know about this year’s event.
For starters, the layout is different to previous years because of the RNA's ongoing $2.9 billion, 15-year showgrounds regeneration project.
The Agricultural Hall and Douglas Wadley Dog Pavilion have been removed over the past year to make way for residential developments.
This year the dog show, agriculture and horticultural exhibits will be held in the newly re-opened basement floor of the Royal International Convention Centre. The dog show itself will be held outside the RICC (site of the old showbag pavilion), with the dog benching housed inside.
If you’re on the hunt for a Bertie Beetle you’ll be pleased to know the showbags have been moved from the cramped confines along near the train line.
Due to the congestion caused on people’s day and weekends at last year’s Ekka the showbags have been moved to the other side of sideshow alley, with the structure they are being sold from 40 per cent bigger in 2012.
This year showbags range from the $1 Blinky Bill Bag and the $2 Bertie Beetle Blue bag to $15 bags such as the Australian Women’s Weekly sampler.
For those concerned about the cost of getting inside the showgrounds entry for a family of four is $62. Individual tickets range from $16 a child to $26 for an adult.
RNA organisers have introduced pre-paid ticket packages this year to make the event more affordable for families.
The Ultimate Family Bundle allows admission for a family of four, with a food, drink and ride package, at a price $55 less than if paid for separately.
According to RNA Chief Executive Brendan Christou the pre-paid packages have proven a huge success.
‘‘Now that the RNA are running more of the food and beverage we’ve been able to do it for the first time this year,’’ he said.
‘‘As of Monday we were 300 per cent up on our pre-sales on last year and most of those are the Ultimate Family Bundle.
‘‘The value of that bundle is really resonating with people, it’s definitely been a winner with the public.’’
Nightly fireworks are always a winner with the Ekka crowds.
And this year there’ll be a lot more for audiences with the lightshow to be doubled in length and size.
In the past Ekka fireworks shows have lasted for seven to eight minutes. But the fireworks running nightly from 8.15pm Friday will last a full 15 minutes.
‘‘It’s double the amount of fireworks, double the time and it has flamethrowers and fireballs going into the air so its a real spectacular which we’ve never done anything like before on this scale,’’ Christou said.
Also lighting up the sky will be a new addition to sideshow alley - the Rock Star ride, a 25m high giant guitar which swings side to side to the thrill of its passengers.
New additions to the Gourmet Harvest food area continues the RNA’s push into the food and wine market.
The Steakhouse Snackbar (providing a taste of the country’s best beef) and li-Naa (Japanese cuisine) join the likes of the Sultan’s Kitchen and Let’s Do Yum Cha.
There’ll also be opportunities for star-spotting.
On the last day of Ekka, August 18, Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath will take part in a celebrity cricket match from 4.30pm.
While Perth rockers Eskimo Joe will take to the Triple M Concert Series stage on the same day, closing the Ekka out in style from 8.30pm. This Sunday Brisbane’s The Ten Tenors will perform from 6pm.
Paper tickets have been reintroduced for this year’s Ekka.
A special flat-rate Ekka travel ticket is available for adults at a cost of $6 and children at a cost of $3, providing transport to and from any station for travellers with a valid Ekka ticket.
Times for both the Ekka bus and train services will be displayed on the TransLink Journey Planner for the first time this year.
Each day of the Ekka 370 extra bus and train services will be running to and from the RNA with trains running every 15 minutes on a loop between the Roma Street, Central, Fortitude Valley and Exhibition stations.
The Ekka runs from Thursday August 9 to Saturday August 18.