The Gold Coast is pulling off what most major cities have been unable to do in the past 18 months: Its annual show is going ahead.
- After being cancelled last year, the Gold Coast Show is going ahead from today
- It will be held over three days at Broadwater Parklands, with 35 rides on offer and up to 150,000 show bags are expected to be sold
- The event has been dubbed a “life-saver” for the operators who usually follow a show circuit across the country
Shows across the country — including Brisbane’s Ekka — have been cancelled due to lockdowns, but the scent of fairy floss and dagwood dogs will be coming from the Broadwater Parklands today and across this weekend.
Crowds packed the Broadwater Parklands on the first day of the three-day event, with families, like Kylie Taylor and her kids, making the most of the chance to get out and about.
“It’s been chaos home-schooling and things like that, so it’s good to be out enjoying the sunshine,” she said.
Last year, the Gold Coast Show was cancelled but this year the show is set to be the biggest event in its 114-year history.
While bakers in the cake competition have been inspired by the pandemic, extra social distancing measures will be enforced for crowd, to make sure baked goods are the only sign of COVID-19 at the show.
Less than 50 kilometres south, Tweed residents are in lockdown as New South Wales battles that state’s worst COVID-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic.
Ride operators, show bag sellers and other stall holders are rejoicing, with their usual circuit income all but wiped out due to COVID-19 lockdowns and show cancellations across the country.
Showtime Showbags’ Mitchell Peers said the show was vital for operators.
“This year, we’ve hardly done any work. Last year was worse,” he said.
“For some of the families, they haven’t worked in such a long time. It’s a life-saver.”
Ride operator — and member of the Showmen’s Guild of Australia — Chris Hennessy usually travels to shows across the country but lockdowns brought his travels and the wider industry to a halt.
“It’s been a real roller-coaster in the last 12 months because we haven’t been able to count on going to event we go to every year because we don’t know if it’s going to go ahead.”
The recent cancellation of the Ekka was a blow for many operators, who were all set up to go when the plug was pulled on the event just days before it was to open.
“They’d done their final checks. Workplace Health and Safety had checked them off. Then the disaster hit.”
Already at the Broadwater Parklands, 35 rides have been set up, the largest offering in the Gold Coast Show’s 114-year history.
“You’ve got all the great rides that should be at the Ekka,” Mr Hennessy said.
Show-goers will also be able to experience the biggest show ride in the Southern Hemisphere.
That ride — dubbed “The Beast” — was due to be at the Adelaide Show, but it was cancelled.
“It swings 45 metres in the air, so it’s not for small children,” Mr Hennessy said.
Recycling for a cause
There will be 20 “10-cent Tom” recycling bins dotted throughout the Broadwater Parklands, to go towards young Gold Coast entrepreneur Tom Pirie’s plan to create employment for people with disabilities.
The 19-year-old — who lives with intellectual impairment and severe scoliosis — is on a mission to raise as much money as possible by collecting bottles and cans.
“The goal is to open up my own, big 10-cent Tom recycling centre and I can employ people with disabilities and I can help other people in the community,” he said.
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