A CLOUD hangs over many of Tasmania’s agricultural shows this season as organisers grapple with the challenges of COVID restrictions.
Some popular shows have already been cancelled again this year due to concerns about the extra work and cost involved with running events amid the current restrictions.
Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania chief executive officer Scott Gadd said plans for what will be the 200th Royal Hobart Show in October were in full swing.
However, he said without changes to the COVID regulations, which could restrict daily patron numbers to 5000, the show was facing major financial losses.
“We are planning a big show this year because it’s our 200th, so we’re currently full steam ahead,” he said.
“The expectation is that we’ll run a show, but at the current limit of 5000 for outdoor events, we face losing a lot of money as a result.”
Mr Gadd, who is also president of Tasmanian Agricultural Shows, said the crowd limits and extra cleaning requirements were a major challenge for the state’s bigger agricultural shows this season.
“Really to make it financially viable we’d need 15,000 a day,” he said. “I could live with 10,000 at any one time, but even at that we would still be losing money.”
Mr Gadd said the current regulations meant the Hobart Show organisers would also need to boost paid staff numbers at the event to at least 90. “That’s three times what we would normally have,” he said.
“A lot of that will be extra people on the gates to make sure people are using the check-in app.
There’s also a lot more cleaning required, so we’d have to triple our cleaning crews.”
Despite six months of negotiations with the State Government over the crowd limit, Mr Gadd said they were yet to reach a solid resolution for the show, to be held from October 20-23.
The Tasmanian spring show season is scheduled to start on October 1 at the Burnie Show.
Burnie Show president Peter Broadfield said the committee was due to make a decision about whether to go ahead this year at a meeting last night.
“It’s difficult because there are so many risks with going ahead, but there are also risks with not running a show again this year after we had to cancel last year,” he said.
“The biggest problem for us is we’re the first show, but we really have to make a decision soon because we’re only eight weeks out now.”
This year’s Royal Launceston Show, to be held from October 7-8, will move to a new location at Quercus Park.
Show vice-president Jock Gibson said despite a large site, the current crowd restrictions would have an impact.
“That’s certainly an issue we’re facing as well,” Mr Gibson said.
Mr Gadd said the requirement for extra volunteers and online ticket sales would also be problematic for many smaller shows, which normally had cash sales at the gate.
“We’ve already seen shows like Bushy Park, Bream Creek and now Ulverstone cancel this year,” he said.
The continuing travel restrictions between states could also make it difficult for show societies to bring in judges from interstate to Tasmanian agricultural shows.