COAST SHOW MUST GO ON
WE need to talk about the Gold Coast Show. It’s dying.
Nothing is ever straight forward in this growing city and the row over Black Swan Lake is no different.
As the controversy has evolved, it has been revealed that a major reason for the council giving the green light to the Gold Coast Turf Club to fill in what it refers to as a “borrow pit’’ – the lake that is reported to be home to 50 species of birds as well as other wildlife – is use of that area for parking for the Gold Coast Show. The show has gone through significant upheaval in recent years. It was relocated to the turf club when the state government decided Parklands would be redeveloped for the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village.
The idea was floated at the time that the show could return to its former home at Owen Park, Southport, but the government of the day decided the move to the racecourse would ensure its future.
It now seems that the move certainly determined its future, but has not ensured its continued operation. As debate about the lake has raged, it has emerged that the Gold Coast Show Society might be unable to continue its financially troubled event.
That would substantially reduce the need to fill in the pit, but it raises an important question about whether the city wants and needs a show. If the public and council believe the show must go on, the question then is how.
Inquiries this week revealed show society president Slim Boese had resigned, and that Councillor Gary Baildon – a former show society president – had sounded out other councillors behind closed doors, seeking emergency funding to keep the show on its feet. If it survives, this will be its 112th year.
The Gold Coast has to understand why major cities such as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are still able to run successful shows in this era in which entertainment is so easily accessed.
We have to learn the lessons of what went wrong in the move to Bundall.
One answer lies at Mudgeeraba, where that suburb’s show continues to enjoy public support. Like the big city events, Mudgeeraba retains the feel of the bush, running a successful agricultural show that caters for the interests of residents in the ruralresidential belt.
It also attracts residents from the coastal strip. City people love it when the country comes to town. They love the farm animals, the chooks and the farm machinery on display. They love the wood chop. They love watching the show jumping and other events in the arena.
Despite its best efforts, the Gold Coast Show had lost that feel, crammed as it was into the limited space available at the turf club. The move was a poor second-best to what it had at Parklands.
Our show lost its soul.
There is talk now of taking the Gold Coast Show to Mudgeeraba, a move opposed by area councillor Glenn Tozer who, while supportive of the Gold Coast retaining its event, does not want the 90-year history of the Mudgeeraba Show compromised.
But the city now faces the prospect of losing its show altogether. It’s crunch time. Mudgeeraba looks to be the answer.