BRISBANE, Australia – Pigs flew through the air to land in big pools of water on Monday at the prestigious Royal Queensland Show as the state’s government announced a $9 million relief package for drought-hit farmers.
At the event, known as Ekka, the pigs launched themselves off a platform and dived into water, enthralling the audience once again after a few years’ hiatus.
The flying pigs debuted at the festival in 2015, dubbed the “Year of the Flying Pigs,” when seven-year-old Mater Vandeleur captivated the audience with his pig-training tricks, according to an Ekka statement.
This year’s event kicked off on Friday and around 400,000 people from rural towns and cities across Queensland and beyond are expected to attend the festivities, which end on Aug. 19.
At the opening, state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk launched the Queensland Drought Appeal to aid Australian farmers, many of which traveled miles to show their livestock in the show.
“The Palaszczuk Government will appoint two drought commissioners and inject $9 million into programs to deal with the social and financial impacts of the drought on regional Queensland communities and families,” a statement by the Queensland government said on Monday.
Over half of Queensland is experiencing a severe drought.
In a statement, Royal National Agricultural Chief Executive Brendan Christou praised the rural communities and said “with almost 60 per cent of the state in the grip of this terrible drought, many of our farmers have still made their way to the show.”
“Their resilience is remarkable and the Ekka is a time for us all to show our support for our farmers and our bush communities,” he added.
The Ekka show this year features 10,000 animals, 21,000 competition entries, brand new award-winning food and wine precincts and a spectacular fireworks finale.
Almost 31 million people have attended the event since 1876.