People not show-ing up

Numbers down for Royal Launceston Show


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THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Crowds have been down for this year's Royal Launceston Show. Picture: Paul Scambler.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Crowds have been down for this year's Royal Launceston Show. Picture: Paul Scambler.

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Now that the Royal Launceston show is over for another year, show-goers are having their say on what needs to change.

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The Royal Launceston show is heading in the right direction, but is being held back by costs, according to Show Society chief executive Brian Bennett.

Crowds at this year’s event have been noticeably subdued compared with previous years, despite some good weather on the Friday and Saturday.

Mr Bennett said the show society had received positive feedback from those who had attended the show, but but admitted they did not get as many people through the gates as they would have liked. 

“Overall, I would have hoped for some more people, because we have some really passionate agricultural competitors here,” he said.

“We said that we wanted to get back to the grassroots aspects of agriculture, and I think we are on the right track there.” 

Royal Launceston Show.

Royal Launceston Show.

While this year’s show has featured plenty of local talent in the arenas, many of the commercial contributors came from interstate.

Mr Bennett said the logistics of getting enough variation to please the crowds was difficult.

“Obviously, we would love to have different rides every year, but the high cost of freighting means it’s not always going to happen,” he said.

“This impacts on the commercial trade that we do.”

With the event having wrapped up for this year, the Show Society are expected to review the takings and begin a plan for 2018. 

Show society president Jock Gibson said changes to the format would not be made lightly.

“We’ll have a sit down and look at what it’s cost us, and then make some decisions,” he said.

“It’s going to take us a bit of time to weigh up our options, so this won’t be something that happens in the next few days.“It will probably be a few months before we decide what we are going to do.” 

Mr Gibson said the show’s current location at Inveresk was not ideally suited to the event.

“It’s a costly venue to hold a show at,” he said.

“Everything has to be out on the grounds and it’s not secure so you have to put portable fencing up.

“If you are having a free event, it’s great, but for an event where you are charging people to come in, it becomes very difficult.”

Some of the other reasons being put forward by show-goers for this year’s thinning numbers for the Royal Launceston Show include a lack of fireworks and the timing of the event.

While there are some who will continue to support the three-day event, most people agree that it is time for a change. 

Gennaro De Santis has been attending the show for four decades and was at Inveresk for the final day of this year’s show. 

He believed there was only one way forward if the show was going to survive.

“One of the main problems with having it on at the same time as the school holidays is that there are a fair few people who go away,” he said.

“I also think Agfest is maybe taking some of the crowd.

“I think both organisations should get together and just sort it out, because they need to get people back here.”

Like Mr De Santis, Ian Phillips is a longtime supporter of the show, having attended in some capacity since 1965. 

This year, he contributed to the fleet of classic cars with his 1930 Model A Ford.

He agreed Agfest may be part of the problem.

“The show is pretty much the same as it has always been, but it is just not being populated the way it once was,” he said.

“I think the sooner it is combined with Agfest, the better it will be.”

The lighter crowds were most noticeable at trademarks events such as the woodchopping.

While competition still drew a loyal band of onlookers, former world champion David Foster said the caliber of competitors deserved better.

“Tasmania has some of the best woodchoppers in the world,” he said.

“There has been noticeably less people to come and watch them this year, which is a bit sad.

“I think the layout of the showgrounds may have something to do with it.

“It is all so spread out and I think shows work better when there is a main arena.”

It’s not just show veterans that calling for change, with first timers also voicing their concerns about the current set up.

The Hawthorne Hill Farm van made its debut at show this year, with owner Mary Henderson travelling from Lebrina. 

She said she expected to do more trade on day two when the gates were open later.

“We were quite excited to come here and launch this part of the business, but after two days I was getting a bit nervous,” she said.

“The gates may have been open until 10pm on the Friday, but we probably had our last sale at around 8.20pm.

“A lot of people came by asking when the fireworks were happening, and I was expecting there to be a bit more entertainment.  

“I would love to come back again, but I think there needs to be some organisational changes.”

The Royal Launceston Show ran from Thursday until Saturday at Inveresk.

The story People not show-ing up first appeared on The Examiner.

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