Gutted, but show goes on
South Otago A&P Society is gutted in more ways than one, first by a fire that destroyed a stable block at the Balclutha showgrounds, and second because it’s happened in the 10 day lead-up to the 151st show.
South Otago A&P Society pastpresident Graeme Moffat watched with semi-disbelief as the burntout building, razed in a suspicious fire overnight Sunday, was demolished on Monday afternoon.
‘‘From an organisation point of view, we provide fantastic facilities for the public, and some people think they’ve got the right to destroy it.’’
The society owns all the buildings and structures on the showground, home of the annual South Otago A&P Show, which is on next Saturday, November 25.
As a safety precaution, the stables were demolished.
‘‘It’s a health and safety issue. We really don’t want loose pieces of corrugated iron flying around like kites,’’ Moffat said.
The area had been fully inspected by police and samples taken from the charred structures and soil to determine whether an accelerant had been used to start the fire. It would be fenced off from the public.
It was not the first time the block had been vandalised or tampered with, Moffat said.
‘‘My first reaction was annoyance, because we were so close to making some major improvements to the stables. We were going to install gates this week - they were all ready to go, along with the hinges to provide better security.’’
However, the show would go on, and the committee would find other places to stable horses and ponies, he said.
A new building adjacent to the old stables, which were moved when the showground was redeveloped in the early 2000s, was undamaged in the blaze.
The old stable block was generally used for animals that needed to be kept separate from other horses, such as stallions. If any were entered this year, the committee could still accommodate them elsewhere.
Moffat could not comment on what it would cost to replace the stables, but said as far as he was aware, insurance should cover the loss.
People with information can contact Constable Hamish Fraser 021 190 5934, Balclutha police (03) 4180203, or Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111.
South Otago A&P Society past-president Graeme Moffat, right, with member Phillip Kempthorne at the demolition of the society’s old stable block at the Balclutha showgrounds.