Red Dove Café: new space, same mission

Posted in Faith

The food, fun and fundraising provided by Red Dove Café every year at the Royal Adelaide Show is well known in the Uniting Church SA community. This year, the café has moved to a new building (pictured) in the south eastern corner of the Wayville Showgrounds, providing an opportunity to reach show workers and attendees in a new space. There’s still time to visit the café before this year’s Royal Adelaide Show concludes on Sunday 10 September! In the meantime, read more about the history and work of Red Dove Café and its loyal team of volunteers.

Many Uniting Church members will be aware of the long legacy of Red Dove Café, which runs annually at the Royal Adelaide Show – and has done since 1951. Established as the “Methodist Café”, the initiative started as a small fundraising outreach operated by the Home Mission Department of the Methodist Church in South Australia.

The café was later expanded – offering more food options and opening for longer hours. The café building was rebuilt in 1965, allowing further opportunities for the café to connect with community members attending the Show.

In recent years, the café has operated from within the carnival area of the showgrounds, providing an easily accessible place for carnival workers to grab a quick bite to eat. The café’s long opening hours – from 7.30am to 8pm – allowed them to capture the business of many people each day during the Royal Adelaide Show.

The café’s change of name was the result of many people commenting on the red dove in the Uniting Church symbol.

The expanded opening hours and convenient location have seen the café gather takings of approximately $85,000 throughout show week. After deducting expenses, the Red Dove Cafe have been able to donate approximately $45,000 to support Uniting Church welfare, mission and community activities across South Australia each year.

As the café has undergone many changes, so too have the Wayville Showgrounds where the Royal Adelaide Show is held; the Show Society has been progressively redeveloping the entire grounds.

Several years ago, the Show Society advised Red Dove Café that it was likely that there would eventually have to be changes to the area surrounding the café. While the team behind the café hoped that these changes would mean simple redevelopment of the existing building, it became clear that the Society wished to clear the entire area and redevelop it in a different way. In early 2016, it was confirmed that the 2016 Show would be the last to be held in Red Dove Café’s existing building.

A farewell and celebration for the old building was held after the 2016 Show. Many people who had volunteered in the café came along to relive memories, and to say goodbye to the building before it was demolished.

In consultation with the Show Society, the organisers of Red Dove Café decided to continue operating in a different location within the showgrounds. A new building, funded by the Show Society, was constructed in a location adjacent to the main arena in the south eastern corner of the grounds.

This new location has meant a separation from regular carnival worker customers, but is very convenient for many of the agricultural exhibitors in the surrounding area. The new Red Dove Café opens at 5.45am each day to cater to the needs of these workers, and will continue to do so until the 2017 Show closes on Sunday 10 September.

In 2017, located in their new building, Red Dove Café is continuing to offer home-style meals and quality customer service courtesy of the many volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to this important initiative.

For more information about the Red Dove Café and volunteering opportunities, please contact Lesley Williams on 0402 006 629 or email

The photo accompanying this article was taken by Bindy Taylor at the opening of the new Red Dove Café building.

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