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Resilience recognised in face of covid

Announcement posted by Writers Who 15 Jun 2021

Four ag shows acknowledged: Woodstock, Finley, Goulburn, Armidale

The Agricultural Societies Council of NSW has announced the four finalists in its 2021 Resilience Award for shows that have shown adaptability and hardiness during the challenges brought on by covid. 

The Woodstock Memorial Show was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, but a group of volunteers investigated alternative options for events to be run virtually to keep the community connected. 

“The Show Society remained connected by maintaining their presence, connecting with their patrons, promoting their sponsors, and engaging with a new audience for very little cost,” President of the state’s peak ag show body, Tim Capp, said.

“To help sponsors struggling during lockdown, the show society created a digital market stall on their website and promoted it on social media.”

Show sections were also digitised. Surprisingly, a record number of entries were received. 

“A Father’s Day photographic competition, online best dressed pets - many of which were purchased during lockdown, and a trail of scarecrows on the showground for people to drive by and admire proved successful initiatives.”

Finley Show Society faced the cancellation of their annual poultry auction in March last year, then their annual sheep dog trial in June. They persisted with their annual agricultural show in September but adapted it to an online show due covid restrictions consisting of pavilion entries, sheep and cattle. 

“Younger  members of the show society with greater computer skills worked together to make it possible.  The virtual Show attracted almost 500 entries and was welcomed by the community,” Mr Capp said. 

The Goulburn Agricultural Pastoral & Horticultural Society’s show was one of the last shows to be held before lockdown in 2020. Ten days later, lockdown commenced. 

“The society decided it was particularly important to offer a 2020 Show because their region had been impacted by drought, fires and floods. Many of the show’s own volunteers were personally affected. They believed the local community would benefit from coming together and enjoying some respite, relief, and entertainment,” Mr Capp said.

“This year, while many shows were deterred by unpredictable state border closers particularly as the preparation for a show requires 12 months, this show society worked within a tight frame alongside NSW Health to create a covid plan in order to host their show.” 

“It was a decidedly traditional show, yet record crowds attended.“

The New England district had borne the brunt of a one-in-a-hundred year drought throughout 2018 and into 2020. Bushfires at the start of that year looked to spell the cancellation of the annual Armidale Show, but then it rained so hope was reinstalled. As the show date neared, covid had reached Australia.

Armidale Show was the last major event in that region before lockdown, and the first major event back after a semblance of normality began to return.

“While many shows cancelled during 2020 and 2021, the Armidale Show Society were determined to provide an event for the community with traditional features of a show delivered in a covid safe way without endangering its financial viability and volunteer network,” Mr Capp said.

"They prepared for both an online version of the show and an offline version, and ended up running both successfully.”. 

The winner will be announced 19 June 2021 at the NSW State Conference themed “Adapt, Sustain, Grow” for agricultural shows, with shows joining digitally from ten regional locations Armidale, Bathurst, Bombaderry, Casino, Dubbo, Goulburn, Narrandera, North Ryde, Port Macquarie and Singleton, and will receive $2,000.