The NSW Government has given the go ahead for local country shows to return from January.
The peak body for agricultural shows in NSW has been working with the NSW Government to achieve workable terms for 192 agricultural shows to go ahead in 2021.
Agricultural Societies Council of New South Wales president, Tim Capp, says shows of all sizes in NSW will welcome the news that Covid-19 restrictions will be eased to allow up to 5,000 people to be on a showground at any one time.
“There are thousands of volunteers around the state who will be delighted to hear they’ll be able to host their local show in 2021,” Mr Capp said.
“As an organisation, we are providing resources and guidance to help our show societies plan and run Covid-safe events.
“Shows have long had protocols around biosecurity, handwashing and cleanliness, and showgrounds are typically vast spaces to comfortably host crowds, so we’re in a good position to adapt to being Covid-safe.”
Importantly Mr Capp says the volume of volunteers required to run a show is substantial.
“We are pleased with the announcement that the 5,000 person figure relates to ticketed patrons, as this will make it possible for more shows to operate next year,” Mr Capp said.
“Nearly one million people attend a local agricultural show in NSW each year, so they too will be pleased to know there is a pathway for the local show to potentially run next year.”
Larger shows will navigate the new rules to consider running a 2021 event.
The Bathurst AH&P Society had been so keen to hold their 2020 Royal Show that they postponed it from April until October, only to have to eventually cancel an event they have been running since 1858.
“This is a great initiative that allows country shows to be back up and running next year. Larger shows like ours are working positively and proactively, seeking some modest exemptions, to hold a financially viable 2021 show,” Bathurst Show secretary Brett Kenworthy said.
“On a good year, we can have up to 25,000 people come through the gates over the three days and nights of our show.
“We’re happy to hear we can consider holding a show within the rules set by the government in 2021. We will be planning how we spread the crowds out over the days of our show.”
The new rules apply to shows from 9 January onwards, correlating with scheduled shows in Bowral in the southern highlands and Pambula on the south coast.
“Until this announcement, we were hoping to run a simple show in January with competitors and animals only, but this is just wonderful news,” Bowral Show Society treasurer Lyn Goulder said.
Russell Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Pambula Show, welcomes the news but says their 2021 show won’t go ahead. They have instead begun work on their 2022 show.
“We’re only 70km from the border, and as our show runs during holidays about 70 percent of people who attend and a large percentage of entertainment providers and judges come from Victoria,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.
“We made a decision recently that we won’t be running a show in 2021 due to the ambiguity of border restrictions.”
Mr Capp says shows big and small will be celebrating this news today, but says the size of the town does not always correlate with the size of the show.
“A small border town in the far south west of the state, Wentworth Show, is famous for attracting ten times the local population to their show. It’s an important event for the region and they’ll be looking forward to putting their show on again next year.”
Wentworth Show has been cancelled in the past, first during WW1, WW2, then the 1956 Murray Darling flood, and now the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.