More than half of the annual agricultural shows in New South Wales have been cancelled this year.
- Uncertainty surrounding lockdowns and restrictions cited as the main reason
- No Show Scarecrow campaign to lift community spirits during October
- Calls for federal government to offer assistance to cancelled shows
In a normal year, 192 communities across the state would host the historic local events, but this year 119 shows have been cancelled to date.
The Agricultural Societies Council of NSW (ASC) president Tim Capp said planning was still underway for some shows.
On the North Coast, from Bulahdelah to the Queensland border, COVID-19 has ended the show season for the year, with show societies citing the uncertainty over lockdowns and restrictions as the key reason.
Bangalow Show president Ivan Ewert said it was a difficult decision to cancel its November show for the second consecutive year.
“It’s not what we’re there for; we’re there to run a show. We’re very disappointed, but at the same time we see it as the sensible way to go,” he said.
“We were waiting for a bit more information, hoping that our area wouldn’t be affected but as it went on it was clear that it was going to be affected.
It’s also a disappointing outcome for the Tweed River Agricultural Society, which was planning its 120th Murwillumbah Show.
Chairman Peter McDonald said the committee had decided to ‘ride it out’ until its September meeting before making the final call.
“It’s really a major event for the town; we always say we’re ‘town meets country’, where people gather and show their livestock, produce and the wares of the district,” he said.
Many shows in the north are heavily reliant on Queensland and a closed border would make it especially difficult to stage an event.
Scarecrows to lift spirits
The ASC’s No Show Scarecrow campaign in October will see the stuffed dolls displayed throughout towns.
Mr Capp said shows that cancelled in 2020 participated in the initiative to highlight their value to country communities.
“I think there’s quite a few this year that would like to do the same again, so it keeps the show movement forefront in people’s minds,” he said.
Calls for financial relief
Mr Capp said an extension of the Supporting Agricultural Shows Program for cancelled 2021 shows would be welcome.
“It would be great. We acknowledge the money we got from the federal government last year for shows that weren’t operating to pay their operating costs — even though they weren’t running a show, ” he said.
Agricultural Shows Australia confirmed it is continuing discussions with the federal government on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud could not provide an update on whether the extension will be forthcoming.
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