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Let the shows go on: Agriculture societies in NSW Central West want coronavirus restrictions relaxed

Tim Fookes, Wednesday June 3, 2020 - 11:43 EST
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Despite uncertainty over restrictions, planning for the Australian National Field Days at Borenore continues. - ABC

As coronavirus restrictions on crowds in New South Wales ease, organisers of agricultural shows in the Central West remain hopeful their events can go ahead.

Covid-19 restrictions introduced in March forced organisers of shows to cancel their events, including at Lithgow, Orange, the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days and the Royal Sydney Show.

However, relaxed rules this month have given hope to other societies that their shows will go ahead in coming months.

Parkes Show Society President Peter Unger said the committee was hoping to proceed with the three-day event at the end of August.

"It would be fantastic if it can go ahead, given all the planning that's going into it," he said.

"We've had a lot of interest from locals wanting to exhibit, but also from all the small communities around Parkes who come to the show."

"People need time to prepare their exbibits and producers need time to prepare their livestock to show."

"We know we have to make a final decision soon on whether the event can go ahead, but we're hoping it can."

Hopeful signs

The Royal Bathurst Show, due in March, was postponed until the Labour Day weekend in early October, while shows in Woodstock and Forbes are still planned for September.

The Australian National Field Days, held at Borenore over three days in October, usually attracts up to 20,000 people.

"We're continuing to monitor the situation, we're taking bookings, and planning to go ahead as usual," said Field Days Manager Jayne West.

"Large gatherings are going to be one of the last level of restrictions eased, but we aren't like a music festival where everyone is jammed in together. We do have a lot of room.

"People have been starved of company in recent weeks due to the restrictions, and these shows are a good chance too for the farming community to catch up with each other."

The Cowra Show Society is receiving strong enquiries from livestock producers to exhibit at the event planned for mid-October.

Society President Matt Bohman said easing drought conditions and the cancellation of other shows in NSW had prompted the increase in interest.

"This year, after all the rain over autumn, there's so much enthusiasm from people to take part and if the show goes ahead the participation from the community will be great," he said.

"We're watching what happens with the National Rugby League, and with the ski fields, to get a sense of whether crowds gathering together is going to be allowed anytime soon.

"That will then help us determine whether an agriculture show like ours can go ahead."

Mr Bohman said many of the events at the Cowra Show were held outdoors but indoor events in pavilions made hosting the show more challenging, due to current crowd restrictions.


© ABC 2020

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