Riverland locals are frustrated once again after one of the largest events on the region’s calendar is cancelled for the second straight year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- The Riverland Field Days event has been cancelled for the second straight year
- The COVID-19 situation interstate and restrictions on large events in SA forced organisers to cancel
- It normally attracts around 15,000 people across two days and has a large economic impact on the region
The Riverland Field Days typically attracts more 350 exhibitors and crowds of more than 15,000 people to its home in Barmera across two days in September each year.
But the pandemic has now forced its cancellation in both 2020 and 2021.
Organisers had remained confident it would be able to go ahead this year with social distancing measures in place, but at a meeting on Wednesday night the decision was made to cancel.
Riverland Field Days executive officer Tim Grieger said the situation in interstate regional areas, such as Broken Hill, pushed organisers towards cancellation.
“There were concerns from both the exhibitors and the public about the risks associated with it.
“The indications from interstate was that they’re [other states] not getting on top of it and it will only get worse. [But] we hope not.”
Mr Grieger said 25 per cent of the exhibitors usually come from interstate and the remaining exhibitors were expecting to have smaller displays this year.
Unable to fulfil COVID plan requirements
Events planning to attract more than 1,000 people in South Australia require a COVID managment plan to be approved by SA Health before it goes ahead.
Mr Grieger said the requirements of such a plan proved too much for the organising committee.
“We would need around 40 COVID marshalls at any one time to run the event and ensure compliance,” he said.
“You can’t have them on all day so you have to have around 100, and we just don’t have those resources.
While the event only goes for two days, the boost to the Riverland economy is felt for weeks as exhibitors travel from across the country to set up stalls and book out accommodation in nearby towns.
Berri Barmera Council Mayor Peter Hunt said missing field days two years in a row would knock the local economy.
“Unfortunately the Riverland and country SA is being penalised for the mismanagement that’s been going on in the eastern states by governments and health authorities,” he said.
“I’m just really disappointed for Tim and the field days committee because they’ve put so much effort in to get this up and running.”