Melbourne Show date change leads to clashes with rural shows

By Sophie Baldwin

A decision to move the Royal Melbourne Show from its traditional late September date to the start of October in 2021, has angered affected rural show committees, including Nathalia Agricultural Show secretary Kathleen Botterill.

The Nathalia Show is smack bang in the middle of the change and Mrs Botterill said it would be disastrous for the event.

‘‘The change of date will have huge repercussions,’’ she said.

‘‘Many of our volunteers and workers are tied up with their own cattle, poultry, sheep and are judges or stewards themselves, who attend Melbourne.’’

The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria has not explained the reason for the date change.

Mrs Botterill said the decision had been made without any consultation and simply finding a new date for Nathalia was not as easy as it sounded.

‘‘We have people who attend our horse event from South Australia and NSW and boys who come to our sheepdog trials from Western Australia — country shows bring people together.

‘‘For us, the local hospital runs health checks, the Lions and Rotary clubs hold raffles and this year we have Rural Minds coming — we can offer things like that to members of the community without them thinking they even have a problem.’’

The Nathalia Show will celebrate its 125th event on October 5, but Mrs Botterill doubts many more will follow.

She said the show was social and offered something for every section of the community — from cooks to floral artists, craft makers, school children and breeders.

It also provides an avenue for entrants to make it to the Royal Melbourne Show.

‘‘It will come down to decision whether our volunteers attend the Royal or turn up to Nathalia Show and if we don’t have volunteers or people through the gate, there is no show,’’ Mrs Botterill said.

‘‘Rural communities have been kicked in the guts enough and it feels like we just aren’t important.’’

Other shows to be affected by the change include Berrigan, Corryong, Murtoa, Seymour, St Arnaud, Swan Hill and Yarrawonga and the Horsham Open Horse Show.

Elmore Field Days public relations officer John Giffin said he did not expect the decision to affect the event.

‘‘The bulk of the public who attend the field days are rural-related and are farmers themselves,’’ Mr Giffin said.

‘‘The Melbourne Show has gone off on a different direction and focused more on entertaining than farming so I would be doubtful whether it would affect us.

‘‘I don’t think it will have much influence on us at all.’’