Coun­try Shows ‘must live on’

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SARAH DEAN

Res­i­dents have been warned – support the coun­try shows or they will dis­ap­pear.

Dwin­dling crowd num­bers over the years and ag­ing show com­mit­tees has forced coun- try show or­gan­is­ers to speak out be­fore it is too late.

The Corowa and Ruther­glen shows have been run­ning now for 139 and 129 years re­spec­tively.

Corowa Show Sec­re­tary Jan McKenna said the prob­lem was wide­spread.

The Agri­cul­tural So­ci­eties Coun­cil of NSW, which is the par­ent body of the Agri­cul­tural Show So­ci­eties, re­cently con­ducted a sur­vey of all agri­cul­tural shows in NSW.

Jan said the main point to come out of the sur­vey was that vol­un­teers across all the agri- cul­tural shows were ‘older vol­un­teers and no one is step­ping up’.

“The gen­eral con­sen­sus was that it is get­ting

harder and harder to find peo­ple to help,” she said.

“I don’t ac­tu­ally find that at Corowa, I find that the ladies and that all come in the day be­fore and do their work and go away and you don’t see them again un­til next year which is fine, but it’s more in the sheep (han­dling area) where it is very phys­i­cal work that I have sud­denly re­alised how th­ese old guys strug­gle with it.”

Jan be­lieves it is sim­ply not good enough to have to rely on the same group of vol­un­teers year after year, with the ma­jor­ity of vol­un­teers aged be­tween 70 and 80 years old.

“We also need some younger vol­un­teers to learn how to run the show, it’s the only way we can guar­an­tee our event’s longevity be­cause the show must live on,” she said.

“They don’t have to come to meet­ings, just be there on the week lead­ing up the show and on the day.”

Jan be­lieves a pub­lic meet­ing could be the an­swer to at­tract vol­un­teers, but is hop­ing it won’t have to come to that.

While the Ruther­glen Agri­cul­tural Show en­joyed large crowd num­bers last month, Show Sec­re­tary Diane O’Dwyer is hop­ing the support will con­tinue in the years to come.

“We get quite good support within the pav­il­ion and cer­tainly from the high school in help­ing us to set up and ev­ery­thing, we could al­ways do with more vol­un­teers to help on show day,” she said.

“What we need are younger peo­ple to come for­ward to help in the plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion to ful­fil fu­ture roles on the com­mit­tee.

“Our com­mit­tee at the mo­ment ranges from late for­ties to about 60 and then es­ca­lates to about 80 year olds.”

Di said or­gan­is­ers were try­ing to main­tain the show with an agri­cul­tural fo­cus.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity for the youth and the young farm­ers to get in­volved and to make sure we sus­tain the preser­va­tion of agri­cul­ture in the area,” she said.

“It’s about mak­ing sure this com­mu­nity event that has been go­ing for 129 years con­tin­ues for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Di said crowds re­sponded to last month’s event, which she be­lieved was due to the nature of the at­trac­tions on of­fer.

“It’s im­por­tant that we put things on that at­tract peo­ple to come and it’s that mid­dle age group that can be the hard­est, but we get the par­ents with the young kids and the grand­par­ents,” she said.

“We were quite happy this year but we do need peo­ple to con­tinue to con­trib­ute and to get in­volved and put for­ward their ideas.”

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