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Clouds over Perth Royal Show not enough to force change of dates, organisers say

Emma Wynne, Tuesday October 10, 2017 - 16:16 EDT
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Two consecutive years of heavy rain during show week have some mooting a change of dates. - ABC

The heavy late September rain and consecutive financial losses in the past three years have raised questions over the timing of the Royal Perth Show.

But Paul Carter, the president of the Royal Agricultural Society of WA, said the eight-day show, which is traditionally held in the second week of the school holidays, would not be moving next year.

"In the 30 years that I have been associated with the Royal Agricultural Society, we have never had two years of rain events like we had in [2016 and 2017]," he told .

"We really had most of September's rainfall in about eight days and most of that coincided with the royal show."

Although the society has yet to finalise attendance and financial figures for this year, the show has posted a financial loss for the past three years.

In 2016 it lost $1.69 million and in 2015 the loss was $1.8 million.

"We had about $300,000 to $400,000 cash loss last year and about $1.3 million to $1.4 million in depreciation," Mr Carter said.

"Ultimately for us we are well capitalised and we are ready for the 2018 show.

"The fear among the community that the Royal Agricultural Society is not here for the long term is ill-founded."

For some listeners to ABC Radio Perth, the rain had not dented their enjoyment, while others found the show too expensive and in need of change.

Ruth: "We had a great day. The craft, photography, decorated cakes and art sections are favourites. We had rain jackets and didn't find the rain an issue. Mind you, we had no kids and sideshow alley wasn't on our agenda."

Cath: "The mass-produced plastic rubbish, junk food and appalling volume of plastic bags sickens me and a considerable number of my friends. But they are all the kind of people that would love the agricultural aspect. We took our daughter this year and loved the fireworks, horse riding and animals, but really struggle with the wasteful consumerism."

Elle: "I could only afford to send one of my three kids to the show this year. Sure the agricultural displays are good, and free, but tell that to the teenagers."

Attendance at last year's show was 311,000, down from a high of 450,000 in 2013, when the state government was still paying for children under 12 to enter free of charge. That subsidy ended in 2015.

Mr Carter said calls for the show to move dates were premature and would be logistically difficult for many exhibitors.

"Does a farmer decide to leave his land just because he has two years of bad seasons? No, he doesn't," he said.

"When you speak to sheep breeders and major cattle breeders, springtime is the best time to show their animals.

"For sheep we are really stretching the boundary of showing sheep and wool already.

"They are shorn immediately after competition.

"Even moving by a week or two would give problems with calving."

Rather than moving the dates, the society is looking at ways to make the show more modern and to capitalise on increasing interest in locally grown food and wine by offering events throughout the year.

"We will continue to innovate and refresh the show to make the offer appropriate to the community in Western Australia," Mr Carter said.

"One-hundred-and-eighty-six years of history of the royal show being a part of our social fabric and our community are really important to us."

Mr Carter added that the rain, while unfortunately timed, was also a boon for many farmers who had .

"We did celebrate the rain, because for farmers and the agricultural sector, I think it will add millions of dollars to the economy of Western Australia."


© ABC 2017

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