Show up or show’s over
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.”