COAST SHOW MUST GO ON

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - OPINION -

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.

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