Canberra Centre Masthead

The Country Fair: Paws, popcorn and fairy floss

Holly Zapasnik

How many of us pine for some time away in the country to reconnect with nature?

The Country Fair at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) on Sunday 13 November promises to deliver a relaxing, fun day for the family without the three-hour long chorus of your children singing “are we there yet?”

Inspired by the NPG’s summer exhibition, The Popular Pet Show, there will be adorable farmyard animals to pat and ponies to ride, which will be a first for the institution.

Ministrations of the shepherdess, 2014 by Graeme Drendel. Collection of the artist, Melbourne.

Ministrations of the shepherdess, 2014 by Graeme Drendel. Collection of the artist, Melbourne.

“This is our first time having animals at an event here,” says Sally Dawson, Learning Facilitator at the National Portrait Gallery. “It will be such a thrill seeing so many of our furry and feathery friends with hooves, paws and claws here on the lawns at the NPG.”

Sally says the layout of the NPG lends itself to warmer weather as guests can move seamlessly through the indoor and outdoor spaces of the gallery.

Cadet with rabbit, 2009 by Graeme Drendel. Collection of the artist, Melbourne.

Cadet with rabbit, 2009 by Graeme Drendel. Collection of the artist, Melbourne.

“I’m most looking forward to celebrating our summer exhibition, The Popular Pet Show, and the warmer weather with entertaining and creative activities for all ages inside and outside of the Galley.”

The Country Fair will showcase the connection and joy that pets bring to our lives with real life participation with new furry friends.

“The exhibition features many portraits of our favourite pets, farm animals and Australian wildlife you would typically see at country town fairs,” explains Sally. “Many are evocative of Australian rural life.”

“We wanted to create an event that made people imagine or remember going to their local Country Fair; being able to spend time with all sorts of cuddly creatures, with the smell of popcorn in the air and the sound of delighted people having a go at games.”

Indeed, popcorn, fairy floss and children’s lunch packs will be available all day at the NPG’s café for when little people exhaust themselves in the petting zoo. The whole family will enjoy relaxing in the country atmosphere, or dancing away to live music by the Bush Capital Band in true country-dance style. Here are some of the other highlights to look forward to!

Pony rides

Budding Olympic jockeys will love the opportunity to ride ponies and donkeys thanks to the National Equestrian Centre! Or maybe you can pretend to be a noble knight, riding around on your noble steed.

Petting Zoo

How can anyone be mad when they look into the adorable big eyes of a baby farmyard animal? Fact: they can’t. Be sure to check out Noah’s Arc petting zoo to get a hands-on experience with our darling fluffy friends.

Music and dancing

Listen to the Bush Capital Band perform traditional Australian tunes and have a dance with Monaro Folk Society Dancers.

Jumping castle and lawn games

Kids and kids at heart will love the variety of games on the lawn! Shoot some hoops, limbo on down (how low can you go?), try your hand at GIANT jenga, hula some hoops, or try your luck at the Quoitis ring toss game!

Face painting and balloon modelling

Are you a princess or a frog? Wonder Woman or Spider Man? Get into the country fair spirit with face painting! Watch balloons be transformed into the shape of your favourite furry friends!

Country caricatures

Draw caricatures with Andrew Hore and learn the tricks that will have you drawing all of your friends and family from one of the pros.

Craft demonstrations

Watch as delicious cakes become works of art with careful and creative cake decorating, observe some spinning and weaving by the ACT spinners and weavers club and much more!

Children’s activities

Your kids will love getting to make their own animal mask or puppet to join in on the festive fun – just make sure they don’t end up getting confused with all the other animals!

Screening: BabeG, (1995)

The classic story of Babe begins with farmer Arthur Hogget winning the piglet ‘Babe’ at a country fair; saving him from becoming Christmas dinner. Babe then has to learn his place in the farm hierarchy. Entry by gold coin donation for a single screening at 2.30pm. Spaces limited.

The Popular Pet Show

The prize, 2016 by Graeme Drendel. Collection of the artist, Melbourne.

The prize, 2016 by Graeme Drendel. Collection of the artist, Melbourne.

This exhibition expresses the joy and warmth that many of us derive from our animal companions, and celebrates their trusting, unpretentious ways. Witness the inspiration for The Country Fair and explore the connection that humans feel with their animals.

$10/$8/Kids enter for free.

the essentials

What: The Country Fair
When: Sunday 13 November from 10am until 2pm
Where: The National Portrait Gallery, Parkes Place, Parkes
Find more information here:

Feature image: Self with friends, 2016 by Lucy Culliton. Courtesy of Lucy Culliton.


Holly Zapasnik

Holly is a final year public relations student at University of Canberra who will talk your ear off about her dog, Archie (who she will claim is the cutest kelpie in the world). As a Canberran who has lived here her entire life, Holly enjoys quaint little bookstores full of character and making people uncomfortable with her terribly bad puns. When she isn't at home geeking out on her computer, Holly can be found lurking around dog parks patting and playing with the best of them. More about the Author