Gunnedah's AgQuip 2020 canned amid COVID crisis

AgQuip in Gunnedah cancelled due to COVID-19

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CALLED OFF: The gates to the AgQuip site near Gunnedah will remain closed this year. Photo: Vanessa Hohnke

CALLED OFF: The gates to the AgQuip site near Gunnedah will remain closed this year. Photo: Vanessa Hohnke

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Organisers had hoped for the three-day event that usually draws tens of thousands of people to town.

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AgQuip 2020 in Gunnedah has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 crisis gripping the country.

The three-day event is usually held in August but had been postponed to November before today's official decision by organisers.

It's a huge blow for Gunnedah and the North West. Moteliers are usually booked out for the week and pubs, clubs and restaurants packed with visitors.

Australian Community Media's Rural Events group manager Kate Nugent said "it was the time to call it" after trying everything to get the event off the ground amid COVID-19 restrictions.

"We've exhausted all avenues through consultation with government, public health authorities, agencies, including tourism, police and emergency services, to try and look at a picture of what we can do and what would need to be done," Ms Nugent said.

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Despite being four months out from the event, Ms Nugent said the deepening COVID crisis had impacted planning.

She said the continuing restrictions on events by the state government had made it impossible to go ahead.

"We were holding out. We knew it was all about the containment of the coronavirus in Australia. AgQuip was dependent on Australia, not just NSW," Ms Nugent said.

While it has never shifted from the third week in August, organisers had pulled out all the stops to ensure it went ahead in a safe way.

We've exhausted all avenues. - Kate Nugent , ACM Rural Events group manager

The field days draws close to 100,000 visitors, including exhibitors and spectators from across Australia.

Ms Nugent said the border restrictions in place had put an uncertain timeline on whether visitors or exhibitors would be able to attend.

"Fourteen per cent of our exhibitors come from Victoria and a high percentage of Victorians visit Australia's biggest agricultural field days," she said.

After three tough years of drought, interest in the field days was stronger than what was seen in 2019.

The three-day event was set to provide a financial boost and would have injected millions of dollars into the local economy.

ACM, the publisher of The Land and local Gunnedah masthead, the Namoi Valley Independent, has also announced AgQuip will return on its usual dates in 2021.

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The story Gunnedah's AgQuip 2020 canned amid COVID crisis first appeared on Namoi Valley Independent.

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