IT WILL be back again, with all the fun of the fair, in 2023, but the announcement of modest government grants this week for 40 Agricultural and Pastoral Societies across Victoria will not save the local show in January 2022.
That’s the word from Honorary Secretary of the Bass Coast Wonthaggi Summer Show Rosemary Loughnan, who is nonetheless grateful for the support.
“We made the decision yesterday that it was going to be just too hard to stage the show in January next year,” Mrs Loughnan said this week.
“We’re not going to have the situations where our volunteers have to argue with people on the gate over whether they’re eligible to come in or not. It’s just not fair.
“You can’t expect volunteers to be the police.
“And frankly, the fence around the Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve isn’t good enough to keep people out.
“What happens if someone who shouldn’t be there is roving around the grounds, like there was a horse show elsewhere in Victoria a few weeks ago and people get COVID.
“I mean we had 19 deaths in one day this week.
“You could be liable for a $10,000 fine or worse be open to legal action and insurance companies simply won’t touch that.
“We’re devastated, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just too many grey areas about what you can and can’t do and while that uncertainty exists and we’re still working through this as a community, we just couldn’t go ahead.”
Mrs Loughnan said the local show society had not made its decision in isolation but was looking at what other event organisers in the local area and across Victoria were doing.
“The Korumburra Swap Meet found they had to go the same way. Some events are going ahead but it’s not without difficulty.
“We’re going to run an equestrian event in March which will probably just be for the competitors and the people necessary to run the event, but we haven’t set a date yet.
“But we’re absolutely looking forward to the 2023 show and we’ve already set the dates, for January 14 and 15, and booked the grounds. So, we’ll be back bigger and better in 2023.”
As it turned, the Wonthaggi Show wasn’t successful in this round of show grants but Mrs Loughnan was pleased for Foster and Lang Lang.
- Lang Lang Pastoral Agricultural & Horticultural Association Inc (Lang Lang Show dates January 15/16 2022) – $10,000 to replace the roof on Sports Pavilion.
- Foster and District Agricultural & Pastoral Society Inc (Foster Show date Saturday, February 26) – $3410 to purchase sanitiser stations, COVID-Safe equipment and showday online support.
State Government backs shows to return
The State Government is hoping “agricultural and pastoral shows across the state bounce back from the pandemic, and welcome visitors through the gates again” with their grant announcement but it won’t be happening this year.
Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas was at the Ballarat Showgrounds on Thursday to announce more than 40 Agricultural and Pastoral Societies have received grants totalling almost $300,000, “to back a diverse calendar of local events in the New Year”.
But as much as the necessary funds, what the show societies need a clearer way through the COVID-safe requirements.
As part of this funding, the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society received $7,507 to purchase a new cattle ramp and portable holding pens and it expected that the other show societies will receive a similar amount.
“We are looking forward to an exciting calendar of events next year in regional Victoria, with communities keen to return to their local shows and showcase all that the agriculture sector has to offer,” said Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas.
Other successful recipients span from East Gippsland to Red Hill and across to Hamilton, with individual grants of up to $10,000 helping societies upgrade or establish new facilities, increase local involvement in show activities and create more opportunities to promote agriculture and engage with the community.
The projects will enhance facilities for agricultural shows and other community events, providing support for societies that had to cancel or postpone shows due to the pandemic.
It builds on almost $300,000 of support through the 2020-21 program, which supported 46 projects. Examples of infrastructure funded through the 2021-22 round include mobile sheep yards, new poultry cages, portable grandstands, marquees, sanitiser stations, display boards and cabinets.
The program also supported projects that promote compliance with COVIDSafe settings to encourage greater participation.
Wonthaggi Show cancelled
The organisers of the annual Bass Coast Summer Agricultural Equestrian Show made the following statement, with regret, this week:
The Committee members of the Wonthaggi and District AP&H Society Inc. have made the decision to cancel its full Agricultural Show in the interests of public safety due to Covid 19.
The best course of action for our next show in 2022 is an “Exhibitor only Equestrian Show” at a date and venue in March to be announced
This would be conducted under the current regulations and restrictions. So, for now there will be:
- QR / manual sign in on show day for those attending.
- No general public allowed.
- All attending as part of the “exhibitors team” would need to be named prior to the show preferably on the entry paperwork.
- All attending will need to QR at the entry gate or sign in manually at the entry gate.
- All class entries and show gate entry would be pre-paid.
“We would like to acknowledge and thank the Bass Coast Shire, all of our sponsors, supporters, volunteers, and Committee members for their ongoing support.
“As we hoped for in 2022, we are still looking forward to a very welcome physical and economic recovery of our community and a Covid-19 free show in January 2023.
“Stay safe and please put us on your calendar for January 14th and 15th 2023,” Rosemary Loughnan, Hon Secretary.