Local country shows share in $20m of show grant funding:

Balaklava, Clare and Mount Remarkable shows have been awarded grant funding to improve facilities under the Australian Government’s $20 million Regional Agricultural Show Development Grant (AgShows) initiative.

The funding was announced for 122 regional agricultural shows across Australia last Friday and is intended to also help show societies who have been forced to cancel events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding was awarded locally to;

Mount Remarkable Agricultural Society Incorporated $234,400 to construct a new exhibition hall at Melrose Showground to replace existing deteriorating pavilions.

Balaklava and Dalkey Agricultural Society Incorporated $124,999 to extend the current Ralli Pavilion at Ralli Park and construct new disability-accessible toilet/shower amenities.

Clare Agricultural & Horticultural Society Incorporated $123,826 to upgrade works to the Clare Showground pavilion including disabled access amenities and an outdoor deck, and installation of new public seating in the main arena.

Mt Remarkable Agricultural Society president Phil Nottle welcomed the news, saying a new pavilion at the picturesque site shared as a football and netball ground as well as for camping would potentially open up new opportunity.

“It’s fabulous news, it’s going to allow us to upgrade the old luncheon, flower and cooking pavilion that was falling down and dark, and I think last year’s show that was an unseasonably warm day really took its toll on some of our exhibitors and visitors to the produce section,” he said.

“It will be additional to a recent $500,000 upgrade through the Office of Sport and Recreation under the women’s sport banner and it’s really good to see.

“It’s going to be a great asset for the community, it will include the replacement of the camp toilet and kitchen and will potentially be a venue that could be used for other functions.”

Mr Nottle said no decision had yet been made if this year’s show would go ahead in October.

“At our executive meeting last Monday night, we deferred making the decision until our next meeting on the first Monday in June,” he said.

“If we can go ahead, we would like to hold it because I think with the Royal Show and a number of other country shows now cancelled, people will be looking for events and shows to attend.”

As reported in last week’s Plains Producer (May 6, 2020), Balaklava Show is among those left with little choice but to cancel this year’s event due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions, and president Callum March said news of the facilities funding had come at a good time.

“We can’t change what’s going on, but the financial risk to organise a show that might not go ahead was just too great,” he said.

“Having no show this year will give us a chance to do some maintenance, including getting onto this funded project.

“It’s good news. To be able to have something that is a multi-use facility that other clubs can use makes it a worthwhile project.

“We needed to update the toilet and facilities, the old ones are pretty run down and it was an opportunity to work with the cricket club to improve and upgrade those facilities.”

Clare Show was due to make a decision last night (Tuesday, May 12) on whether its 2020 event would go ahead, but acting secretary Cheryl Koglin said the committee was thrilled with last week’s funding announcement.

“For eight years we’ve been trying to get the money to upgrade the brick pavilion,” she said.

“This will enable us to do paving and decking, an undercover area at the front of the building, new floor, replace the noisy refrigerator and upgrade the kitchen, but the biggest thing will be toilets at the building which will make it more attractive for hire and provide huge potential for its use for other functions.

“We also hope to have some other good news to share in the coming weeks regarding other improvements to our showgrounds.”

With agricultural shows contributing about $965 million to the economy each year, and attracting almost six million visitors across the country, the events are a major contributor to local communities.

Announcing the funding, Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud said the grants would serve as a much-needed cash injection.

“Agricultural shows are a major drawcard for our regional towns, many of which have had to cancel events this year due to COVID-19,” he said.

“These grants will help show societies refurbish their show grounds and facilities, so when their next event rolls around it will be even more attractive to show goers.”

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey also welcomed the news, saying the Federal funding would provide a boost to these country shows, many of whom have struggled under the pressures of rising insurances and costs, drought and finding a volunteer workforce to put in the thousands of hours it takes to run a show.

“Having said that, I sense that in communities where shows are still operating, there is a real determination to not only ensure they survive, but that they adapt, reinvigorate and grow,” he said.

“These grants will benefit both agricultural show societies and regional communities.

“Agricultural shows are the heart and soul of our regional communities. They bring and keep communities together and provide a key injection into the local economy.

“I recognise the huge effort it takes to run a successful show and the dedication of those who put in the hours behind the scenes.

“These events showcase the hard work and innovation that goes into producing Australia’s food and fibre.

“Upgrading show facilities means more visitors to these regional events, more local employment, and more purchases for local businesses.”