Goulburn’s agricultural show has been announced as a finalist along with Woodstock, Finley and Armidale, for the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW’s 2021 Resilience Award.
The award recognises shows that have demonstrated adaptability and hardiness during the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Goulburn Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Society was one of the last shows to be held before the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. The lockdown commenced 10 days after the show.
“The society decided it was particularly important to offer a 2020 show because their region had been impacted by drought, fires and floods,” said Agricultural Societies Council of NSW president Tim Capp.
“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.
“This year, while many shows were deterred by unpredictable state border closures, 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-19 plan in order to host their show.
“It was a decidedly traditional show, yet record crowds attended.”
Goulburn Show Society president Jacki Waugh said she was humbled that one of their volunteers had nominated the show for the award.
“It was very nice she thought highly enough of us to do that. When you’re on the committee, you’re so busy and it’s hard to see all the success,” she said.
Ms Waugh remembers the tough decision the committee had to make in 2020 about whether to go ahead.
“We had a meeting late in November and we didn’t know which way to go. Then we decided we would go ahead but we knew there was a possibility the show could be cancelled at any time,” said Ms Waugh.
The volunteer who nominated Goulburn Show, Heather West, said she thought the committee deserved recognition for pulling off two shows under difficult circumstances.
Ms West had always taken her children to the show and held stalls at the event, but never realised the work that went on behind the scenes until she was recruited by Ms Waugh in 2020 to volunteer at the show and collect an oral history of the show from older committee members.
“That gave me an insight into everything that goes into the show in the 12-month lead-up,” said Ms West.
“To put the show on in 2020 when they knew the pin could be pulled at any time if there was a COVID-19 outbreak and to do it again this year with all the extra COVID-19 regulations, I thought the committee deserved congratulating.”
Similarly, the Woodstock Memorial Show was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, however a group of volunteers investigated alternate options for events to be run virtually to keep the community connected.
“To help sponsors struggling during the lockdown the show society created a digital market stall on their website and promoted it on social media,” said Mr Capp.
Show sections were also digitised and a record number of entries were received.
Finley Show Society also faced the cancellation of its annual poultry auction in March last year, then its annual sheepdog trial in June.
However, the society persisted with its annual agricultural show in September but adapted it to an online show due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“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,” said Mr Capp.
Armidale Show was the last major event in that region before lockdown and the first major event back after a one-in-100 year drought and bushfires.
“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,” said Mr Capp.
The winner will be announced on Saturday 19 June.