WHAT'S ON

Wauchope Show will be on April 17 and 18

ENJOYING THE DAY LAST YEAR: Former Wauchope Showgirls Madeline Dobson and Nikki Gibbs. Photo: Letitia Fitzpatrick.
ENJOYING THE DAY LAST YEAR: Former Wauchope Showgirls Madeline Dobson and Nikki Gibbs. Photo: Letitia Fitzpatrick.

The Wauchope Show will go ahead this year, despite bushfires and the ongoing drought, which have forced the cancellation of 15 country shows.

There are a total of 175 across the state, mostly on the south coast. Shows are a cherished staple of rural communities and the show in Wauchope is no exception. The Aussie spirit of refusing to be cowed is alive and well.

Entertainment at the Wauchope showground will include a V8 Trackskill car show, and fireworks and a laser show both nights, weather permitting, as well as a demo derby. They have also booked in car soccer.

Show Society president Neil Coombes said that the committee members, directors, stewards and life members work tirelessly to present the annual event.

"These members present a traditional, yet modern showground that is well-maintained, and is the pride of the local and extended community," he said.

"Our continued gratitude goes to them and past members, without whom the Wauchope Show, the showground and many other events held here would not be as successful as they are."

The NSW Government is sponsoring country shows in 2020 with $5000 grants to help assist with holding the event. Wauchope Show Society have applied for that grant. Work has started on the new stand, which should be ready in time for the show in April.

"Despite the drought and the fires, we endeavour to put on a show that's better than ever. It's going to be tough this year with sponsorship because people just don't have the money, and we understand that," added Mr Coombes.

"With our new stand, we have had the seating by the NSW Forestry Commission, and there will be more news to come on that as the show approaches."

Money will be delivered quickly so operators can use it and organisers will be able to spend it with local businesses to help boost community coffers.

Already 30 shows have applied for the grant and been successful with an additional 30 applications in the system.

The first $5000 grant was announced for the Wingham Show due to be held on March 20 to 22.

"We've had a tough year with fires and drought so this means we can put on a great family show," Wingham Show president Elaine Turner said.

Ms Turner said on the grant application it had certain criteria including what the money would be used for before the funds were allocated.

She said they would be using the money on children's entertainment as well as promotion.

"Our campdraft was cancelled last year because of the drought and entry numbers were down for the rodeo this year, so we were chasing our tail and having to debate what kind of show we can put on for our community and get normality back for our show," Ms Turner said.

"It will be a great family weekend with new different sections coming on board."

Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RASNSW) general manager for agriculture Murray Wilton said this the sponsorship grants would provide vital support for regional and rural communities.

"Country shows play such an important role in bringing people together, especially during times of adversity," Mr Wilton said.

"They are the largest social gathering for many in regional and rural areas, providing a much-needed break from the property, a chance to catch-up with old friends and a strong sense of community."

"By supporting our country shows you are supporting the social fabric of regional and rural NSW."

On the RASNSW website it has a bush fire emergency information and assistance page, which outlines that it was focusing on the recovery efforts required once the immediate threat of fire has passed.

"The road ahead will not be easy but it is during this time the RAS will continue its mission to support and help rebuild strong, vibrant and resilient rural and regional communities," the website said.

NSW Farmers' president James Jackson echoed Mr Wilton's sentiments saying country show were a "good gathering point" for country people as farming could sometimes be a "lonely" business.

"These shows are critical touch points for people to network for community spirit," Mr Jackson said.

Deputy Premier and Regional NSW Minister responsible for disaster recovery John Barilaro said in drought affected regions local businesses were struggling to find the money they would usually provide for sponsorship.

He added that the bush fires on the South Coast had resulted in cancelled shows where showgrounds had become evacuation centres.

"Country shows draw huge crowds which gives local businesses exposure and a chance to showcase products or increase sales, creating work for suppliers, keeping money flowing through towns," Mr Barilaro said.

"A morale boost and the additional economic stimulus provided by shows is what our regional communities need right now and we will be working with show organisers to get money out the door as quickly as possible to avoid further cancellations."

The sponsorship grants are available from the $170 million drought stimulus package.

A list of the shows that have been cancelled due to the bushfires:

  • Pambula
  • Bowral
  • Albion Park
  • Candelo
  • Kiama Show
  • Eurobodalla Show - a community family day was to be held on January 25.
  • Berry Show
  • Bundarra Show and Rodeo
  • Cobargo Show
  • Braidwood
  • Bemboka Show
  • Lithgow 'Australia Day Summer Horse Event (January 26. The Lithgow Show (March 20-22) is still going ahead as scheduled.

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