The Eurobodalla Shire will hold the first show in country NSW this year when it hosts a pared back COVID-19 safe event in Moruya on 23 January.
Two smaller shows in the state’s southeast have already been cancelled in 2021, and the Eurobodalla Agricultural Show looked set to follow.
Bushfires forced the show to be abandoned in 2020 and organisers called off the 2021 event back in October. But a relaxation of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 restrictions and strong support from sponsors prompted a rethink.
“Because of the backing from Eurobodalla Shire Council, the committee decided we needed to have the show to say we are still here,” said Eurobodalla District Show Society treasurer Lindsay Boyton.
“It’s been going for 149 years, we can’t just leave it. Shows are really important … it brings people together, at least once a year. People are missing that community connection.”
The organisers decided to press ahead, but in a different format and the ‘SOS (Save Our Show)’ event was born.
Jams, preserves and flowers are gone. In fact, anything that had to be housed indoors will be missing from the 2021 event.
However, old favourites such as the horse shows, petting zoo and poultry displays will draw in patrons.
Mr Boyton has been involved with Eurobodalla Agricultural Show for more than a decade but he’s never had to jump through so many hoops to stage a successful event.
“We have had to do eight different safety plans for the showground, one for each section,” he said. “We can’t have anything in the pavilion, and we’ve decided to make it a one-day show instead of two.
“There will be no entry fee and we will have the horses, poultry, a pet show, demonstrations from Eurobodalla Canine Club and the Rural Fire Service, vintage cars and antique tractors.
“The carnival people are already setting up. At 6 pm, we have a group, Shack Shakers, coming in to sing and there will be cattle events in the round yard.”
On Sunday, 24 January, a car boot sale will round out the weekend at Moruya Showground on Albert Street.
The Eurobodalla District Show Society is part of the Far South Coast and Snowy Monaro Association of Show Societies Incorporated Group 6, which also takes in Bega, Bemboka, Bombala, Candelo, Cobargo, Cooma, Dalgety, Delegate, Nimmitabel and Pambula.
Prior to the bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic, only severe floods or droughts have caused the cancellation of southeast NSW shows, many of which have been running continuously for more than 120 years.
“2020 has been a particularly challenging year for our Group 6 show communities,” said a spokesperson.
“Indeed, many of our members have observed that, in hindsight, 2020 should have been thoroughly lunged first and then turned out for six months to calm down.
“But 2021 offers our local show committees and our communities the unique opportunity to work together to recover, rebuild and even reinvent what our local shows mean to us.
“Just like the communities we serve, our volunteers are tough, innovative, imaginative, hardworking and maybe just a little bit stubborn, which is why we are determined to get back on the horse and work hard to help our whole region ‘ride this year out’.”
Mr Boyton said some shows are going entirely online for 2021, while others are reinventing their event like the Eurobodalla.
“We have to think about different ways to do things,” he said. “It’s important we get back to normal and the local show is a good way to do that.”