A QUARTER of a million dollars will bring back the bright lights and sugar highs of the region’s agricultural shows in 2021.
The Federal Government has released a $250,651 stimulus to agricultural shows across the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions to cover losses from the pandemic.
Mackay Show Association Manger Steve Gavioli he was “absolutely delighted” a $70,000 grant had been approved as it was critical in covering the losses from this year’s cancelled show and helping to prepare for the upcoming 2021 event.
Mr Gavioli said the 2020 losses were enormous as only three months was left before the opening night when COVID-19 rolled into Queensland.
“Wages, preparation of the grounds, travel we had booked,” he said.
“All that pre-planning … by March we were in full swing.”
>>SEE THE 2021 SHOW DATES BELOW
By April, Mr Gavioli was forced to announce the 141st annual show would be postponed for 2020.
But he said the money would not cover all the losses from the pandemic, noting costs from cancelling the 2020 show would have exceeded the $70,000 government refund.
Mr Gavioli said all he could do was hope the pandemic was kept under control and prepare the required COVID Safe plans for the June event.
“I’m hoping things will return – I can’t say to normal – but a COVID normal,” he said.
“We have to factor in COVID.
“Things definitely aren’t the same.”
Mr Gavioli said it was too early to reveal which of the festival highlights would return in the June event.
Show Whitsunday secretary Sue Quantock said a $40,000 grant was a fantastic gift in preparation for the two-day show, which would run on June 18-19.
“After such a horrible year it’s a bit of good news,” she said.
Ms Quantock said it was still unknown what a COVID safe show would look like.
She said a meeting with The Showmen’s Guild in January would brainstorm how to bring back the traditional Ferris wheels, roller-coasters and bumper cars.
Sarina Show Society administration assistant Kylie Tracey said $15,000 had been secured, but it would not cover all of the 2020 losses.
Ms Tracey said the entertainment bill alone was upwards of $40,000.
Pioneer Valley Show Society received $70,000, the Proserpine Show was given $41,667 and the Clermont Show got $13,984.
Agricultural Shows Australia chair Rob Wilson said the $34 million national funding package would provide certainty and a renewed sense of optimism for the coming year.
“With some states already giving the go-ahead to shows next year, subject to COVID conditions being met, this funding will ensure hundreds of societies can start planning now,” Dr Wilson said.