Organisers of Queensland’s largest agricultural show are scrambling to keep events and sales alive after the Ekka was cancelled just days before it was due to open.
- A COVID-19 outbreak has seen this year’s Ekka cancelled for the second year running
- Stud cattle owners packed up and went home but other competitions are going ahead elsewhere
- Some events are being held outside south-east Queensland while others will be live-streamed
With stud cattle breeders already setting up, the state government on Sunday extended its snap, three-day lockdown in 11 local government areas until 4pm Sunday, August 8, to stop the spread of a growing COVID-19 cluster.
After the extended lockdown was announcted, stud breeders were sent home but organisers were planning to hold the prime cattle section at the Silverdale Saleyards today and the carcass category of the led steer competition at Nolan’s Abattoir in Gympie.
Beef steward Gary Noller said organisers had factored in changes to health advice when planning this year’s event.
Mr Noller said that, while some of the events would need to be modified, he was keen to see them go ahead.
“We still will be able to announce a result and any accolade that might help a producer sell a bull or market his cattle better will still be available to them,” Mr Noller said.
A number of the events have been postponed, with organisers still trying to work out how they planned run them — some moving away from south-east Queensland and others holding virtual competitions.
The Prince Charles Hospital charity organisation The Common Good was still trying to work out how to sell stockpiles of the Ekka’s famous strawberry sundaes.
Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association’s CEO, Peter Baldwin, said the organisation was planning to take its young auctioneers competition to one of Queensland’s regional saleyards.
“What it will look like is the truest form of a livestock auction,” Mr Baldwin said.
“The auctioneers will be expected to sell steers to expert buyers in that saleyard.”
Mr Baldwin said that, while the contingency plans were exciting, the organisation preferred to have the competition at the Ekka.
“Ideally we would want to conduct the auction at the Ekka but, if we have to make contingencies, that’s what we do.”