Honouring our Ekka Legends
For 143 years, the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA) has been dedicated to championing and celebrating agriculture and achievement.
The RNA values the commitment and time people dedicate each year to ensure Queensland’s largest and most loved annual event runs smoothly.
The Ekka Legend award was introduced in 2004 to honour people who have made a remarkable contribution to both the RNA and Ekka.
Ben Matthews has been honoured with the 2018 Ekka Legend Award, for his 65 year involvement with the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka).
Ben attended his first Show Camp as a 12 year old boy in 1953 and was presented with the coveted award at the President’s Reception during this year’s show.
Ben started out in the Agricultural Hall as a rural youth competitor, mentor and steward. In 1966, the pig competition section needed help, so at the age of 25, Ben became a steward and very ably got this section back on track. In the years to follow, Ben stewarded across various sections including dairy cows, dairy goats and pigs.
The 2018 Ekka marked Ben’s 53rd year as a steward - 50 years of which have been with the dairy goat section.
Together with his wife Yvonne, father Tom and son Thomas, the Matthews’ family has well over 100 years of service to the Ekka.
Keith and Wendy Enchelmaier
Keith and Wendy Enchelmaier were honoured with the Ekka Legend Award in 2017 for helping hundreds of budding journalists at the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) for more than a quarter of a century.
The couple have been running Ekka’s 10 day Show Camp for 27 years and have helped more than 500 Year 6 students produce around 1,000 stories for the official Ekka newspaper - The Ekka Courier.
In his first year as Show Camp Manager in 1992, Keith introduced The Ekka Courier to allow students to gain real life experience as a journalist, reporting on all aspects of the show from agriculture to entertainment.
Keith also arranges iPads for the students so they can take photos, record interviews for podcasts and get video footage.
Keith’s wife Wendy, a keen writer herself, has worked alongside him for around 15 years helping the students with their writing skills.
Sydney ‘Syd’ Haag became the official 2015 Ekka Legend for his near 70 year involvement with the Agricultural Hall as an exhibitor and mentor to many in the Youth District Exhibits.
Syd was born into the Agricultural Show movement and followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, who started showing One Farm Exhibits (now known as the district exhibits) in 1921 at the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka).
At the age of 16, in 1948, Syd began his association with the Ekka and moved on to become an honorary agricultural judge at the age of 21.
Since 1948, Syd has not missed an Ekka and continues to compete in the District Exhibits and Giant Vegetable Competitions.
Syd hasn’t hung up his gardening tools and said he will continue to compete at the show as long as he is capable.
Dulcie was awarded the title of 2014 Ekka Legend by RNA President David Thomas at a reception held during the show.
For 60 years Dulcie has been exhibiting her Saanen goats at Ekka and in those six decades she has missed only three shows when she took time out to have her two children and a shoulder reconstruction.
Over this time she has won more than 52 Champion and Grand Champion sashes, with the first ribbon awarded to her in 1958.
She started exhibiting as a 19 year old in 1954, travelling by train with her goats from Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast – a trip that took three hours.
Dulcie’s driving force and commitment to the goat section saw her work to secure a new purpose built goat pavilion.
Dulcie donated $20,000 towards the new building and her husband Brian, an engineer, provided structural drawings and design and donated his time to oversee construction.
The 2013 Ekka Legend was awarded to Kevin Hickey, a man who hasn’t missed an Ekka since 1933 and has shown his own dairy cattle every year for more than 60 years.
Mr Hickey from the Samford district is a third generation dairy farmer whose grandparents William and Hannah Hickey started showing dairy cattle at the Royal Queensland Show in 1926. The Hickey family has shown at every Ekka since then, resulting in over 80 years of continuous showing.
Kevin Hickey and his family are an institution of the Queensland dairy cattle industry and long standing supporters of the Ekka.
After more than 40 years of service to the Ekka, the RNA awarded Eric Bassingthwaighte of Sunnybank as the 2012 Show Legend.
Working as an Honorary Council Steward in the Prime Beef Competition since the 1960s, Mr Bassingthwaighte has been responsible for the processing, showing, auctioning and delivery of cattle at the Ekka.
RNA Councillor Philip Harpham said Eric was highly respected by the Beef Cattle Committee, Ekka staff, livestock agents, cattle buyers and exhibitors.
Don Protheroe was awarded the 2011 Ekka Legend award for 31 years of dedicated service to the Dairy Cattle competition.
Mr Protheroe of Kallangur began stewarding in the milk room in 1976 and continued on as the Dairy Superintendent until retiring in 2007.
Since coming to the show as a six year-old in 1939, he attended every Ekka since and had stewarded in the beef section for a remarkable 50 years.
In almost 80 years he only missed one show – in 1942 – when the Ekka was not held due to World War 2 when the Showgrounds were used as a staging depot for troops.
In 2014, Ken was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) medal for his service to the agricultural show movement in Queensland, and to the community.
The RNA is deeply saddened by the passing of a man who epitomised the spirit of the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) – Ken Crotty OAM.
Don Ross Senior
Ekka icon Don Ross Senior was named the 2009 Ekka Legend for his contribution to the Ekka night program over many years.
The nail-biting Roman Chariot races were an Ekka night show drawcard since their inception in 1958, when a 24 year old Don and his younger brother thrilled crowds with their daredevil roman riding act.
Don spent fifteen years as Horse Superintendent at the Brisbane Royal Show, from 1982 to 1996 and still works alongside his son and grandson, alson named Don, in the family business.
Graham Jensen was honoured with the 2008 Ekka Legend award in recognition of his 60 years of service to the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka).
Mr Jensen has been involved in the RNA as a member, an honorary steward, a committeeman and in association with various show societies.
He began competing at the Ekka in 1995 and later became an assistant official measurer in the horse competitions.
Mr Jensen has been involved in the Miss Showgirl competition and the Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Societies committee for more than 25 years.
Along with his prestigious Ekka Legend title, Mr Jensen has been recognised for his devotion to the agricultural industry with an Order of Australia medal and a Centenary medal.
Noel McGregor was awarded the 2007 RNA Show Legend Award for his contribution to the Woodchop & Sawing Competition at the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) for more than 50 years.
Mr McGregor became involved with the RNA shortly after World War II in the Woodchop Arena cleaning up the woodchips during competition.
Over the 50 years since Mr McGregor first debuted at the Show he continued to participate at the EKKA as an Honorary Council Steward (appointed in 1993) and starter in the Woodchop section.
John Ross stepped out from the shadows when he received the 2005 Ekka Legend award, the second person to ever receive the honour in the history of the RNA.
For almost 60 years, Mr Ross delighted generations of EKKA visitors with his silhouette artistry in the Showbag Pavilion.
The RNA was deeply saddened by the passing of John Ross on August 24, 2008.
Mr Ross was considered an Ekka institution and crafted the silhouettes of hundreds of thousands of Ekka patrons throughout his 58 years exhibiting.
Mr Ross would arrive at the Show before 9.00am each morning and produce up to 50 silhouettes each day.
Frederick Slatter, OAM - Inaugural RNA Show Legend
The inaugural Ekka legend was awarded to Frederick Jack Slatter OAM for his commitment and dedication to the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) Dairy Cattle Competition.
Mr Slatter contributed significantly to the management and judging of the Royal Queensland Show’s (Ekka) competition for more than 50 years, having started out judging the milking competition in 1963.
Over the years, Mr Slatter was also Master of Ceremonies for the Supreme Dairy Cattle presentations and an Honorary Council Steward in Dairy Produce, and the RNA will be forever grateful for his contribution and commitment.
The RNA was deeply saddened by the passing of our inaugural 2004 Ekka Show Legend, Frederick Jack Slatter OAM, on December 10, 2016.