Casino's Primex agricultural field days have joined a long list of similar events fallen prey to Covid-19, cancelling its 2020 event for the first time in a 36-year history.
The field days, sponsored by local dairy co-operative Norco, had been rescheduled from May to September but manager Bruce Wright said the decision was made to postpone until 2021 after an online survey of exhibitors made it clear that there were too many headwinds.
Certainly the learnings from this year will help going forward with a COVID plan now developed and an application before the health minister asking the crowd cap be lifted for the outdoor event.
To support their exhibitors, Primex launched a free service virtual field days in early May and it remains up on their website. Similar online platforms were developed to help Agfest in Tasmania and New Zealand's National field days at Hamilton, not all of them free. Mr Wright hoped those initiatives would help next year.
Mr Wright said his survey of Northern NSW exhibitors showed the extent of economic hurt right now in the regions with 75 per cent affected by COVID, 56pc by drought, 35pc from bushfire and 21pc still affected from the 2017 floods.
"The fluidness and volatility we are now facing has left us devastated for the region, the charities which rely on Primex and the thousands of local businesses who receive much-needed revenue."
This year's pandemic has meant that many exhibitors had issues obtaining stock, exacerbated by clogged ports. Some machinery suppliers with no stock in the yard were facing delivery delays of between two and four months.
However he was heartened that 90pc said they would sign up to a 2021 Primex. Meanwhile local government authority Richmond Valley Council has pledged full support for next year's event.
Mr Wright said Primex Field Days generated an estimated 110 jobs, provided an immediate injection of more than $7million into the local economy, and more than $40 million in sales were generated from the event annually.
The event is part of the the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia (AAFDA) is seeking $1 million-plus in survival funding from Canberra to support them through the COVID-19 crisis.
AFFDA secretary Wendy Franklin said her organisation was still in discussion with the office of federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, and was still hopeful of getting some help.
She said AAFDA was disappointed the big machinery field days had been excluded from the federal support package for agricultural show societies Australia-wide.
The current circumstances involved have now made this decision seemingly easy