Show society pulls the plug on community event

NO SHOW: Levi and Lacey Hunter with Fraser and Malseed as they enjoy the last Penola Show in 2019.

Charlotte Varcoe

PENOLA’S McCorquindale Park will remain unusually silent this October with organisers announcing the cancellation of the 157th Annual Penola Pastoral Agricultural and Horticultural Show.

Show society committee members met Monday evening where they made the tough decision to cancel the show for the second year in a row amid concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Society president Kinta Wilson said members agreed it was not feasible to plan such a large event, only for the possibility of it to “fall in a heap” the day before.

“If we were to go ahead from here on in and continue to plan the show there would be serious financial ramifications if we had to cancel in the future,” Ms Wilson said.

She said there were also issues surrounding the society’s COVID-19 Safe Plan approval time, extra costs and manpower to ensure social distancing and cleaning remained adhered to.

“It is the new normal to have to make these decisions and until we have a way to live with this virus there is a huge unknown for everyone involved in major events,” she said.

“We certainly did not want to go ahead with the show and become to epicentre of another outbreak even with the most amazing COVID marshalls and tracing systems, we believed it was too risky to bring thousands of people and have an outbreak occur.”

Disappointment of the cancellation was also felt from regular vendors of the show with Strawberries Galore owner Kerry Braun stating multiple country show cancellations had a lasting effect on business.

“It is devastating that another show has been cancelled but at the same time we all need to stay safe but financially with two years of cancellations we all hope these shows are able to pick back up next year,” Ms Braun said.

“Although the cancellations are understandable, they have a flow on effect for vendors across the state who travel to regional areas specifically to participate.”

Cattle producers were also expected to feel the aftereffects of the cancellation with show society cattle coordinator Kimberly Wilson stating regional shows were often utilised as advertising for studs.

“It costs a lot of money to have an animal show ready and we have seen a decrease in interest for the cattle side of the show than in recent years due to uncertainty,” Ms Wilson said.