Show up or show’s over

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

A DES­PER­ATE call has gone out for res­i­dents in the state’s North to sup­port the Royal Launce­s­ton Show or risk los­ing the event.

De­clin­ing at­ten­dance fig­ures have un­der­mined the show’s fi­nan­cial po­si­tion to the point that with­out a bumper crowd this week­end, the show will no longer be vi­able.

Show so­ci­ety pres­i­dent Jock Gib­son said it was a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion but spi­ralling costs were crip­pling the event.

“There’s ev­ery chance that if we don’t get enough peo­ple this year that could be it.”

The show started yes­ter­day and con­tin­ues to­day and to­mor­row.

Mr Gib­son said to be vi­able the show needed to­tal crowds of about 12,000 to 15,000 but in re­cent years num­bers had dwin­dled to about 8000.

Mr Gib­son said a lack of in­fra­struc­ture at the In­veresk site was also push­ing up costs.

“Our venue makes it very dif­fi­cult be­cause we don’t have many ex­hi­bi­tion build­ings. Ev­ery­thing has to be out in the open so we have big costs like tem­po­rary fenc­ing and se­cu­rity, so that all adds up,” he said.

“It’s also get­ting hard to run a show like this be­cause of the ex­tra com­pli­ance is­sues we have now.”

The Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia’s planned move to the In­veresk site means if the show con­tin­ues it will be forced to re­lo­cate af­ter next year.

Mr Gib­son said a re­lo­ca­tion would not be vi­able un­less the show re­ceived more sup­port from the pub­lic.

A num­ber of po­ten­tial sites have been con­sid­ered but none have been fi­nalised yet.

The Launce­s­ton event is the only royal show lo­cated out­side the state’s cap­i­tal city.

How­ever Mr Gib­son said get­ting more peo­ple through the gates was a chal­lenge.

“One of the big­gest problems is that peo­ple have so many other en­ter­tain­ment op­tions now, and we’re com­pet­ing with all of them,” he said.

Un­like small re­gional shows that are run by vol­un­teers, Mr Gib­son said a larger event and man­ag­ing the site over the year re­quired some paid staff.

The show has one full time em­ployee and some ca­su­als.

While re­duc­ing the num­ber of days the show runs could be an op­tion, he said it was un­likely to cut costs enough.

Tas­ma­nian Agri­cul­tural Shows pres­i­dent Si­mone Sal­ter said agri­cul­tural shows were now com­pet­ing against other events such as Dark Mofo and this made at­tract­ing peo­ple harder.

“I know some of the smaller shows do well and they are well sup­ported by their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,’ she said.

“Some of the big­ger shows are strug­gling a bit. I’m not sure if it’s be­cause peo­ple in the city ar­eas just aren’t in­ter­ested or don’t see the show as hav­ing some­thing for them.”

The group rep­re­sents 23 shows across the state.

Mrs Sal­ter said some of the most suc­cess­ful agri­cul­tural shows man­aged to carve out a niche and make the event rel­e­vant for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

She named the Bream Creek show with its giant pump­kin com­pe­ti­tion and the Huon Show which had a fo­cus on the own­ers of life­style prop­er­ties and small farms.

Mrs Sal­ter said most shows were run by vol­un­teers and at­tract­ing younger peo­ple to show com­mit­tees was cru­cial to en­sure fresh ideas.

“Be­ing generic or be­ing over-com­mer­cialised doesn’t help ei­ther,” she said.

“You need to have that sideshow type en­ter­tain­ment for young peo­ple, but you also need to make sure there’s some­thing for all the mem­bers of a fam­ily.”

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