Following on from our previous blog, we managed after much sufferance, to submit an entry for the SA Tourism awards. 

While all entrants were invited to the Gala Dinner, being held at Adelaide Oval, we decided to wait to find out if we were finalists before booking our hotel room, or tickets and organising clothing to wear. Finally the email came though, announcing that we had made the finals! Looking through the list of finalists, I don’t think there were too many people that hadn’t made it as a finalist, but that is beside the point. 

We went about putting the finalist logo on promotional materials and sharing them all over social media. We were entered in ‘tour and transport operators, under 15 employees, but we were also automatically eligible for ‘voters choice’ awards. 

What should we wear?

Then came the challenge of working out what to wear… the theme for the event was ‘disco’ or ‘formal’ but I just couldn’t bring myself to represent my business while dressed in disco outfit. It was then that my husband suggested the most hairbrained idea. 

A month or so earlier, some period ‘gambler’ costume had appeared on Facebook marketplace. This gorgeous costume was in our burgundy colours, and I was tagged in the post by 6 different friends. We went to try it on, but found we were just too fat for it. The seller, a wonderful 86 year old tailor, could see our disappointment, so offered to make us a set to fit!! Such an incredible lady! we intended to purchase this outfit for promotional photos of a carriage we are currently rebuilding, but the feeling we got while wearing these amazing clothes, we decided to wear them to the gala! After all, they are ‘formal’ and it didn’t say anything about which era formal attire had to be from. 

We booked our hotel room at the Hilton (thanks to a great state voucher), made an appointment with the hairdressers on site (Muse- Maddie is the bomb- highly recommended). And were almost starting to get excited about the evening. 

We were tossing up whether to arrange for someone to pick us up in one of our carriages, but logistics got a bit hard, and the thought of someone else driving my horses through the city, not to mention them loading everything to get them all home again, just made me decide against it. 

The day FINALLY arrives

The day arrived, and we got dressed up. Stepping outside of the hotel, and the attention from the passers by was a bit overwhelming. I loudly mentioned to Brendan how important it was to wear our masks, to prevent the spread of Spanish flu- let’s just say social distancing wasn’t an issue. 

Feeling all very self conscious, we arrived at the tram station and was fortunate to meet one of our gorgeous friends who happened to be in town from Roxby Downs for work. It really made what could have been a very awkward tram ride quite pleasant. 

Arriving at the gala dinner, we found drinks and then found our friends from Kimbolton cellar door, who were entered in a different category. Entree came out, but when I saw the tentacles still attached to the octopus leg, I suddenly lost my appetite. We were seated outside, around the edge of the oval, and were greeted with a very powerful welcome from traditional owners. The categories were announced in random order, and we were so excited when Kimbolton were awarded silver in their category! 

We moved upstairs to the ball room, where mains were being served. Drinks were readily available, but due to needing to remain sober, so I could remember my speech if needed, I didn’t make the most of that! We were sitting at a table quite near the Premier and Governor General, right near the main stage. 

Our category was announced

After what seemed like hours, our category was announced. In the lead up to the event, I had looked through the adverting and seen who I thought would be our competition. Most of these businesses had been in categories already announced, so I was again beginning to think we might be in with a chance. 

My heart sank just a little bit, when there were about 10 businesses in the running, and we were disappointed, but not surprised, when it was awarded to a much larger company. At least now I didn’t have to remember my speech. 

At the conclusion of the awards we headed up to the roof bar of the oval for the gala dinner after party and a spot of networking. While the feedback we were getting from almost every serving staff member was commenting how awesome we looked, the social distancing continued, so we didn’t stay at the after party for long. 

Brendan and I then headed back across the footbridge, and were fortunate to bump into a gorgeous young couple with a camera, which for us, gave us the most awesome keepsake of the night, when he took our photo and emailed it to us. This really was the highlight of our evening (Many Many thanks to Ben Privett bhphotos11) then to the casino for a flutter (no luck there either). Off we went to Maccas to get some food, then back to the hotel. 

To wrap up the whole experience, I’m glad we did it but probably won’t enter again. For the amount of time and effort involved in our submission, we didn’t really get a great deal of marketing success for promotion from it. However, wearing our awesome costumes to the gala dinner seemed to pay off, as on the traffic to our social media really shot up on that night! 

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