I was always planning on taking my kids to the Eid Show. They have it every year, and it’s held at the Bankstown Trotting Club. We live less than 10 minutes away, entry is free, and to top it off, it’s held at a venue that I have fond memories of frequenting as a child. Nothing but winning in my eyes!
This year however, I had more reasons than ever to attend. True confession time: I’ve been known to argue on the internet. Yes, I know it is often pointless. Yes, I know that, with specific regard to those who happen to have the most extreme of views, nothing that I am going to say is going to change their minds. I can be as logical and rational as possible, with no result. I get that. But dammit, some of these comments are awful. They are hate-filled. They are violent. They are full of half-truths, no-truths, and huge amounts of misinformation. So on occasion, I take the bait. *Hangs head in shame*
Lately I have been challenged in a few threads. “Go to Bankstown, then you will see how bad it is,” “take a trip to Lakemba, see what it is like there.” With the exception of one comment, all of these challenges have come from individuals who live nowhere near these areas- on many occasions, from people who don’t even live in NSW. It always makes me laugh when I see these comments directed at me- I live in the Bankstown area. I grew up visiting my grandparents in Canterbury and Lakemba. This place, that these people are trying to demonise, is my home.
So I decided to take their challenge. I’m going to ‘visit’ the areas that I grew up with as my backyard. And as the Eid Show is held close enough to my home that I can see the fireworks from my backyard, I decided it was a good place to start.
Eid is a big deal for Muslims. For my Muslim friends, the event is a big family celebration, much like Christmas is for those of us who are from a Christian background. New outfits are bought. Food is planned for weeks and cooked over several days. Family members that are rarely seen resurface for the celebration. Kids get to stay up late. It is a BIG DEAL. So it shouldn’t surprise me that Eid Show is PACKED. Seriously, it’s like Good Friday at the Royal Easter Show, but with a smaller venue.
We were planning on meeting up with some friends, so we push our way through the crowd until we find a quiet section tucked between a stand selling buckets of fairy floss and a toilet block. My six year old call out in excitement. “Look, mum! A fairy garden!” And suddenly we find the first Awesome Thing at the Eid Show. The fairy garden is actually the entrance to the show’s sensory room, which has been provided for the benefit of special needs kids, who may need a place to calm down or chill out away from the madness and noise of a crowded festival. It was provided by a community group called Al Fitra, which also provided a disabled access toilet facility and and a wheelchair lending service for families who may require them on the night. I approached the women who were running the tent, and they enthusiastically ran me through their set up. The sensory room was darkened, with a comfortable chair, some rugs and pilllows. Around the space were various sensory play items- textured toys, light and sound items, even a special sleeping bag designed to enclose and comfort kids who are over-stimulated. My favourite item in the tent was a textured light-play board, made from moulded foam with painted pushlights pressed into it- my kids thought it was amazing, and I thought it was pretty damn ingenious. The tent is such a great idea. My kids do not have special needs, and they get over-stimulated in crazy environments like festivals and fairs- I can only imagine how much the inclusion of this kind of room would benefit the families with special needs kids. It went one step further than making sure an event was accessible for kids with special needs, and made them feel welcome.
We found our friends, and the kids, overcome with excitement, convinced us to head over to the rides. Some crashing fun on the dodgems, approximately twenty rides down the super slide, and finally I managed to convince the kids that we should go check out the camel rides and pony rides. Here we found the second Awesome Thing: adults were allowed to ride on the camels too. Hubby paid for three, so the kids and I jumped on the camel and plodded around the grassed area. It was, in all honesty, one of the most exciting things that has happened to me in the last twelve months, and I was so excited that bystanders were laughing. It was a beautiful thing. Once they had convinced me to get off the camel and “let the other kids have a turn”, I asked my kids what they thought. Six year old said “Mum, it was OK, but I rode a camel last year, and THAT was along the beach.” Hmph. Turned to three year old. “Mum, can I go on the motorbikes now? I wanted to go on the motorbikes.” Well, I found it awesome. Camels! CAMELS!
We wandered around for a while. The kids got balloon fairy wings and balloon swords. I convinced them that face-painting was not a festival necessity. We shared an oversized tub of pink and blue fairy floss. I tried Arabic coffee served by a funky man in traditional clothing, which was thick and sweet, not unpleasant at all, but also not to my taste enough to become an Awesome Thing. We decided to stop for some dinner at some tables near the Gift a Smile stand, which brings me to the third Awesome Thing.
Gift a Smile is a charity who’s main aim is to bring joy to the lives of people who are suffering. They hand out bags chock full of toys in children’s hospitals and children’s wards. They organise parties for kids who are stuck in terrible situations, and raise money to financially assist their families. They visit nursing homes and the elderly in hospital, bringing with them gifts and food. They spend time with people, listen to their stories and offer them comfort. As far as Awesome Things go, a charity that goes out of their way to put smiles on faces is pretty damn awesome.
I happened to be friendly with one of the women who was running the Gift a Smile stand, so we went over to say hello. As part of their fundraising, they were selling some of the brightly coloured toys that they stock their gift bags with. My kids wanted one of everything, and my friend kept on giving them things, refusing my money. My dad eventually pushed some cash into the hand of one of the volunteers. He can’t say no to my kids, and he can’t say no to a charity that tries to brighten the day of sick kids either. Gift a Smile is passionate about giving special needs kids and their families support, and many of the families who volunteer are families with special needs kids as well. The sacrifices these people make, to volunteer their time, as well as taking care of their own families is amazing. Gift a Smile, I tip my hat at you.
As I was speaking to my friend at Gift a Smile, I noticed a very popular stand selling baked donuts. My friend explained to me that these were not just any donuts, they were being sold by a man who had traveled to Sydney from Melbourne. He was confined to a wheelchair after a terrible accident, and is currently on the long path towards his goal of walking again. Not only were the donuts delicious (Nutella filled! OMG!), Yogi was quite lovely, chatting to people, posing for photos, showing off a bit for the kids. His treatment is costly and time consuming, and his dedication and willingness to go the hard yards to get back what was taken from him is pretty awe-inspiring. I believe they are still selling donuts in Sydney, so if you get a chance, buy a box. Yogi Sanchez is definitely the fourth Awesome Thing that I found at the Eid Show. Tasty treats combined with dedicated perseverance is awesome in anyone’s book.
It was getting late and the kids were getting cold and tired. My daughter started complaining about not getting a wax mould of her hand, my son was bummed that he was too young for the motorbikes. Suddenly, explosions filled the air, and hundreds of people started streaming towards the grassed area. The fifth Awesome Thing, fireworks! We usually just watch them from the yard of our house, but this year we ran towards the field with the crowd. A friend’s teenage daughter grabbed my three year old, and took him right to the front of the barriers to watch. My one year old stared in complete awe. This is what made it an Awesome thing. I love watching kids when they see fireworks for the first time! The display was pretty spectacular, and we were lucky enough to have a really good spot. Yay for fireworks!
The sixth Awesome Thing was not specific to any experience or group. It was the sense of community that was present the entire time we were there. It wasn’t exclusive to one group or another. It was completely inclusive. From the young man who helped my son off a ride, to the people laughing
at with me when I was rocking out riding a camel, it was an event filled with joy and pride in one’s community. This is a community of people who are often given such a hard time in the media, and an even harder time by certain groups of people on social media. Yet they are incredibly generous, welcoming and fun to hang around with. These are people who let little kids push in front of them in the toilet line when they are busting pee. They are nice people, regular people.
We left the Eid Show with three happy, sugar filled kids who thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. If you live locally and have always wondered, head on over next year. Have some fun!