Coronavirus forces cancellation of agricultural shows

By Country News

Agricultural shows have been cancelled across the region due to uncertainty about the crowd numbers that will be permitted in October under coronavirus restrictions.

Numurkah A & P Society president Bev Patrick said the society made the decision to cancel the Numurkah Show last week.

“The most important consideration was everyone’s health; 80 per cent of our judges, volunteers and competitors are over 70, so were in a vulnerable situation,” she said.

“Financially, you can’t ask sponsors for money this year because money is tight, and you would have to get a lot of people through the gate to cover all the costs.

“Sideshows aren’t travelling, and as far as serving food goes — that’s all complicated.”

Ms Patrick said as a midweek show, the cancellation was disappointing for the older generation, who looked forward to attending the event.

The society will be looking for volunteers to help plan a bigger and better show for 2021.

Shepparton Agricultural Society administrator Julie Winch said the society was planning to run the Shepparton Show this year, subject to restrictions.

“We may have to reduce some of our sections, it’s a bit of a challenge to meet social distancing requirements,” she said.

“We also have some concerns with our judges and stewards being of a high-risk age group.”

The number of people on the grounds, temperature checks, recording entrants’ details and organising online tickets, were all factors to be considered by the society.

“We certainly do want to have a show, the other societies have made a difficult decision to cancel,” Ms Winch said.

“There’s no real assistance for agricultural societies and the only income is gate income.

“If we knew how many people we'd be allowed in October, it would make a huge difference.”

The Nathalia Agricultural Society has also cancelled this year's show, but will host competitions online, covering most categories — including photography, writing and cooking.

Cancelled shows for 2020 include: Benalla, Kerang, Kyabram, Mildura, Numurkah, Nathalia, Swan Hill and Wangaratta.

The Cobram Agricultural Society will make a decision this week.

For the majority of these shows, war has been the only other factor to cause cancellations.