A litmus test on how hard parts of regional NSW were hit during the COVID-19 pandemic could be reflected by the impact on country shows.
Funding support from state and federal governments has provided a much-needed injection for show societies which have upgraded ageing pavilions and livestock facilities.
Holbrook Show Society committee member, Rita Bowler, said "four chunks of funding" from the state government's Showground Stimulus Funding, totaling about $250,000, has given a much needed facelift.
Projects at the showground included building a cattle judging ring, installing lights and the acquisition of 90 cattle beds based on the design of those used at Sydney Royal Easter Show. Ms Bowler said changing the date of the Holbrook Show from November to March also attracted cattle exhibitors heading for Sydney Royal seeking more show ring experience.
Another spin-off from the work undertaken for the Holbrook showgrounds upgrade was the staging of the recent Limousin National Show and Sale. Ms Bowler said this event brought new faces to town, giving work for local carriers, filling tables and rooms at restaurants, hotels, motels and the caravan park.
She said a number of visitors at the event were "just observing" with plans to return next year and there was "very favourable feedback" from exhibitors and buyers.
Orange Show Society committee member Matt Lamrock said the Orange society received $45,000 in state government grants for its 150th show, to be held this weekend.
Last year's show fell between pandemic lockdowns and was "one of our better shows", he said.
"This year we'll use the grant money to double or triple our spend on entertainment.
"Early ticket sales indicate that visitors to the weekend's show will be up by a considerable amount and at least 25 per cent of them will be from outside the 2800 postcode.
"Our show is going to tie in with our local tourism push where people want to come here in autumn for the food, wine and climate".
Mr Lamrock said Orange Show's equestrian section had attracted a large number of entries and some competitors were planning to use the Orange grounds as a base to compete at other shows across the region.
This, he said, would bring more money into the centre and help spread the word on what Orange's showgrounds had to offer.
Quirindi Show Society embraced $2,567,950 from the state government's Showground Stimulus Funding, resulting in the construction of a 1300 square metre pavilion.
Show president Gail Kelly said before the upgrade there were just dirt floors in the pavilions and it was a haven for pigeons and rabbits.
Since the upgrade, she said the show society hoped to present a three-day spectacular from September 9 to 11, leading off the weekend with a PBR (Professional Bull Riders) organised rodeo on the Friday night.
Mrs Kelly said, this year, Quirindi Show Society would allow ticket holders from the PBR event free access to the rest of the weekend's show events.
"This will give families a weekend-long incentive to come to the rest of the show without incurring any extra ticket cost," she said.
Mrs Kelly said finding people to help is mostly a struggle, but if these events continued to attract outside visitors, then community-minded members would come on board to boost one of their town's key assets.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.