THE South Gippsland Dairy Expo, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, September 8 and 9, has been cancelled.
Members of the Strzelecki Lions organising committee met last Friday, after Victoria went into lockdown on Thursday, to consider the status of the event this year but remained undecided about its immediate future.
However, according to promoter of the event, Deanne Kennedy, when the daily COVID-19 numbers hit 29 in Melbourne last Saturday, they felt they had no alternative but to abandon plans for next month’s expo.
“The event was scheduled for September 8 and 9 but the critical dates for us are two to three weeks earlier when we want to set up marquees and all the rest,” Ms Kennedy said.
“Presently you’re allowed to have 300 people at outdoor events but we need to be able to have 1000 and the prospect of that being in place by the first week of September was too much of a risk for us.”
It’s a crying shame for Victoria’s most important milk-based promotion and trade services event.
This year’s South Gippsland Dairy Expo had already stitched up 100 exhibitors, 15 gold-class sponsors, four silver sponsors, 20 Udder Truth competition contributors, and 16 gumboot event prizes.
Major sponsors included Burra Foods and Saputo, together with Reid Stockfeeds.
And unlike last year, there’s no time for the organisers of the expo to rollout the virtual expo they staged last year.
“It’s very disappointing but the impact of the pandemic is so unpredictable. If we got to the stage where we had everything set up and it couldn’t go ahead, it would be a big cost,” said Deanne.
“At the end of the day we just couldn’t take the risk.”
The organisers made the decision before Premier Daniel Andrews announced a “snap back” out of lockdown in regional Victoria, with “no positive cases and no exposure sites” in regional Victoria.
But the news came too late for the dairy expo organisers, and presently only 300 people would be allowed to attend.
Local football leagues will be hopeful that crowd numbers might be up to 1000 by the start of September but such a change would come too late for the expo to get up and going.