Virus wipes out rural event calendar

Virus wipes out rural event calendar

Agricultural events like the Sydney Royal Show have been cancelled as the federal government enforces restrictions on gatherings due to COVID-19. Photo: Samantha Townsend

Agricultural events like the Sydney Royal Show have been cancelled as the federal government enforces restrictions on gatherings due to COVID-19. Photo: Samantha Townsend


A list of events cancelled due to COVID-19 public gathering bans.


AS MANY as 40 country shows will be cancelled by the end of April - and that's just the beginning as bans on public gatherings are enforced due to COVID-19.

The Federal Government has banned inside gatherings of 100 people or more, which comes after restrictions on outside gatherings of 500 or more people was implemented.

It has caused a ripple-effect on the rural events calendar with the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) announcing this year's Sydney Royal Show would be cancelled.

Related reading:Postponed: NSW Farmers' annual conference

But some shows managed to make the most of community gatherings before the ban was enforced with Coonabarabran, Blayney and Gresford holding their annual agricultural events.

"Country shows are focal points for any community and are good opportunities for towns to showcase their agricultural produce," Coonabarabran Show president Callen Thompson said.

"They are a prime opportunity to get off farm and meet up in a social surrounding especially in this drought."

Mr Thompson said he felt for other communities who were hurting in the drought and bushfires that had to cancel their event because of coronavirus.

"I know what a financial problem for us it would have been if we had not gone ahead and lucky we were able to hold ours before the shutdown," he said.

"It's a big financial cost and I feel for the Showmen, who support country show and entertain our punters, it must be tough for them."

Coonabarabran Showgirl Sammy Cormie (who is pictured on the cover being interviewed by Don Riley from Oakvale Limousin Stud Coonabarabran) echoed Mr Thompson's sentiments saying country shows brought people together in tough times.

"We've had rain and that's helped kick-start the economy but now we have taken another hit with coronavirus," Miss Cormie said, who is 22-years-old and works in aged care.

Related reading:Sydney Royal Show cancelled

The Agricultural Societies Council of NSW (ASC) executive council met on Monday to discuss the implications on shows that needed to be cancelled in response to COVID-19.

ASC president Tim Capp said it was important that all shows for the foreseeable future follow this directive.

"Our recommendation is that all agricultural shows and show related activities in NSW do not proceed," Mr Capp said.

Mr Capp said it was a "big blow" to shows who had already been suffering from bushfires and the drought.

"There is a worry that shows that a struggling have a year off....and are they going to find it hard to start again?" Mr Capp told The Land.

Mr Capp said the committee was currently working out how the state finals for the young judges competition would proceed, which would be in consultation with the Royal Easter Show.

On a facebook post, the ASC stated that rescheduling an event or show later in the year needed to be after consultation with a show's ASC group executive.

NSW Farmers' president James Jackson said the cancellation of rural events like the Easter Show was a necessary and disappointing outcome of the coronavirus outbreak.

"It is the right decision," Mr Jackson said.

"Stemming the outbreak must be priority, but shows are an important event for our sector. They help promote local food and fibre production and it is an important social and networking event for many farmers."

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said cancelling or postponing these events is absolutely "heartbreaking" for those involved.

"We are however in unprecedented times and we must put the health of our communities first," Mr Marshall said.

"I have no doubt regional communities will rally and put on even bigger and better shows next year."

Showgirl and rural achievers

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) is currently looking into ways it can best support The Land Showgirl and Rural Achiever competitions following the cancellation of the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

"These competitions are vital to supporting our regional and rural youth and provide a fantastic platform for professional and personal growth," the RAS said in a statement.

"While we are currently working through the complexities of the cancellation, the RAS will ensure the incredible finalist of the Showgirl and Rural Achiever competitions receive the recognition they deserve and go-on to be great ambassadors for rural and regional NSW and the agricultural show movement."

ALPA Young Auctioneers Competition

Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association chief executive officer Peter Baldwin said the organisation was working hard to ensure the state and national ALPA Young Auctioneers Competitions would be held at later dates now that these competitions could not be held during Sydney Royal Show."We've deferred the NSW state competition and are going to wait and see our way through the circumstances," he said.

As well as the situation with COVID19 changing rapidly, he said ALPA was mindful and respectful of the changes many companies, including stock and station agencies, had made to travel policies for their staff.

"At the same time, you can't run an event without cattle - we need cattle and we need buyers," he said.

The ALPA board held an emergency meeting at 5pm last Friday where the decision was made to defer the state and national competitions.

Further meetings to develop a plan were held during the weekend and early this week and although new dates and venues were yet to be released, Mr Baldwin was keen to assure competitors and sponsors a solution was being mapped out.

Mr Baldwin also wanted to stress to sponsors, competitors and their families that their support and feedback since Friday's decision was valued and they hoped to hold events in the same high esteem as people had come to expect of the Sydney Royal events.

Western Districts

The seeds of the large grammas currently being grown at Red Bend Catholic College, Forbes and at another garden near Bathurst, will be dried and stored for future years.

Western Districts exhibit manager, Tom Dwyer, Forbes, said the grammas would be opened in late May and seeds would be dried out.

Red Bend College's agriculture students have been growing grammas and Atlantic pumpkins for the district exhibit for several years.

"It's disappointing the show has been cancelled, but maybe that will be a blessing in disguise for us to plan forward to next year," Mr Dwyer said.

It has been a tough 12 months for all district exhibit associations, not just Western Districts where Mr Dwyer said he was having trouble in obtaining seeds and grain for the exhibit this year.

"The drought put paid to many crops last year, so while I could get wheat, other grains are virtually impossible to obtain," he said.

"We were battling for produce, hay sheafs, oats, canola and pulses, and even sorghum are in very short supply, so much so that we'd have virtually no grains for display this year, and I think most other districts are in the same boat."

Mr Dwyer said he thought it was lucky the show was called off as early as it was.

"It's given all enough time to digest the situation and now we can start planning for next year."

Showman's Guild of Australia

The Showman's Guild of Australia executive director Michael Wood said it was working with regional shows who were postponing their event to try and accommodate them later in the year.

At the same time, Mr Wood said the guild, which represents 500 members in NSW, Queensland, ACT and Northern Territory, was lobbying the federal government for financial assistance.

"All ride owners and families won't meet the criteria, which has left us with no income at all," Mr Wood said.


Australia's favourite showbags like the much-loved Bertie Beatle bag are now available online.

More than 65 showbags will be available online from today throughout Easter with options from fashion to beauty, kids and entertainment.

Chicane Showbags co-owner Emily Williams said she was devastated to hear the sad news that the show would not be going ahead this year.

She said they had been working with warehouse to despatch showbags with the full range now available online.

"You may have missed out on the Easter Show, but you can still get your showbags - delivered to direct your door," Ms Williams said.

Wingham Beef Week

Coronavirus precautions means there will be an altered program for the 33rd annual Wingham Beef Week.

All activities scheduled for Wingham Showground as part of Wingham Beef Week have been cancelled and instead the annual event will be a carcase only competition.

"It's been a bad year with fires and droughts, now the coronavirus topping the shows, is tough because shows is how we come together," Wingham Beef Week president Matt Martin told The Land.

Mr Martin said they would still run the carcase competition for those people who had fed cattle for the event.

"This is so they have somewhere to turn their cattle to, but we won't allow anyone on site to view the carcarse or cattle," he said.

More info on Wingham Beef Week changes: Coronavirus precautions mean altered program for Wingham Beef Week

Casino Beef Week

Two of the biggest agricultural gatherings scheduled for the far North Coast have both been pushed back as a result of coronavirus predictions.

Casino Beef Week, scheduled for the last week in June has been rescheduled for September, with president of the organisation, Frank McKey, saying the fast changing nature of the virus and the public reaction to it, meant planning for the 11 day 100 event community wide celebration, was an impossibility.

Also in Casino, the annual Norco sponsored Primex field days have been delayed from their scheduled dates in late May until August 6-8 for the same reason.

"As these circumstances have been evolving, Primex has been in contact with the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australia, the Richmond Valley Council and a number of exhibitors over the past 10 days to further monitor and consider the best options," said event owner Bruce Wright.

"Exhibitors who have been contacted as part of this consultation process have been very supportive of the decision to change the date."

Field Days

The 2020 Tocal Field days have been cancelled as event organisers are following the direction in not having gatherings of 500 or more people. "We hope to see you on April 30, May 1 and 2 in 2021," it says on their website. The Broken Hill AgFair, to be held on May 1 and 2 has been postponed to May 7 and 8 next year.

Wellington boot

The 40th annual 2020 Wellington Boot Racing Carnival of Saturday and Sunday, April 4 and 5, will be conducted, but for participants only. It has been closed to the public

Lightning Ridge Easter Festival

Due to the rapidly evolving restrictions on public gatherings during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Lightning Ridge Tourism Association and Easter Festival Committee posted on their website that they "had no other option but to postpone our 2020 Easter Festival".

This includes all usual street events, competitions and activities including Black Opal Bull Ride, Easter Horse Racing Carnival and Fireworks.

"Rest assured that we are confidently looking forward to holding some or all of these events prior to the end of this year," the website said.

Subject to any further restrictions on travel and public assembly, the website said Lightning Ridge was open for business, recreation, fun and adventure this Easter Holidays.

"Looking forward to seeing you all in The Ridge soon," it stated.

Country shows cancelled

(information sourced The Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Facebook page)

  • The Castle Hill Show that was to be held on March 21 and 22
  • Tenterfield Show Society Campdraft has been postponed due to the coronovirus situation. All entry fees will be refunded in full.
  • The 2020 Wingham Show has officially been cancelled for the safety of all concerned.
  • Wauchope Show has been cancelled
  • Lithgow Show has been cancelled.
  • Cumnock Show
  • Gunnedah Show Society wishes to advise that the 2020 Gunnedah Show has been cancelled.
  • The 2020 Macksville Show has been cancelled
  • Blacktown horse show
  • Warialda Show
  • Narrabri Show
  • Baradine show
  • Mendooran
  • Holbrook Show.
  • Batlow Show
  • Tocal Field Days

Events not cancelled/postponed 

  • At this stage (Monday March 16), the 82nd Walgett Show is amongst the upcoming annual shows that have not yet been cancelled.
  • Finley Show has postponed its upcoming Poultry Auction until further notice.
  • The dog section of the 2020 Yass Show is planning to proceed, pending approval from Dogs NSW.

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