The Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association, the RNA, originated in 1875 when its predecessor, the National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland was formed with the Queensland Governor of the day as its first President. It enjoyed strong support from the business community at that time including the Queensland National Bank and its senior officials who were active in its formation. The object of the Association, which remains central to the RNA’s activities today, was to promote the development of the agricultural, pastoral and industrial resources of Queensland.
From the outset, the Association did not confine itself to an annual exhibition as a means of contributing to agricultural and industrial development. This was a valuable precedent for today’s RNA which conducts an increasing range of exhibitions and trade shows but, more importantly, prestigious food, wine and agricultural competitions both during and outside of the annual Exhibition. These allow medal or category winners to add value to their businesses by enhancing the brand recognition of their products or produce. Importantly, the EKKA beef competition is now the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
Remarkably, the first Exhibition in 1876 attracted 16,000 visitors on the first day and 34,000 overall when the city’s population was only 20,600. Today the annual Exhibition, Royal Queensland Show, or EKKA, as it is affectionately known, attracts over 400,000 visitors annually. It is Queensland’s largest and most iconic event generating through the Show alone, over $160 million to the economy.
The Bowen Hills site was chosen for its proximity to the city and its good drainage. The $2.9 billion, 15 year redevelopment project being undertaken in partnership with Lend Lease, will ensure that the annual celebration of production excellence will continue on this site well into the distant future.
By bringing town and country people together, farmers and manufacturers, breeders and buyers and members of the public, the Royal Queensland Show over 136 years has provided a social event, combining entertainment and education, unmatched in Queensland’s history.