Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
As the Clarence Pastoral and Agricultural Society Ltd met with Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan at the Grafton Showground on February 9, they welcomed the announcement he made and expressed their heartfelt appreciation.
After the unfortunate cancellation of the 2020 Grafton Show, only weeks prior to the event, Mr Hogan visited the iconic T. J. Ford Pavilion at the showground last week and announced a grant of just under $18,000 through the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days Program to reimburse costs for the cancellation of the popular attraction last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After thanking Mr Hogan for the grant, Grafton Show President Rex Green said he is remaining positive the 2021 show will go ahead and he is hoping the community support the event this year.
“The money we received helps to cover our lost income and all the additional expenses we lost last year such as advertising when we had to cancel the show,” he said.
“While some of us thought about not running the show this year because of Covid-19, the thing is, it is going to be around for a long time, we’ve got to learn to live with it and we’ve got to keep moving forward as best we can.
“We are concerned about Covid-19, but we need to get the numbers through the gate.”
Several members of the Grafton Show Society, including Vice President Leone Roberts, attended the Glen Innes Show over the weekend to observe how they managed the event within Covid-19 safe guidelines.
“We want to see a good turn-out for the Grafton Show this year, but we also want to ensure people are safe and we can manage the numbers accordingly,” Mr Green said, adding volunteers are being encouraged to act as Covid-19 marshals in the T.J. Ford Pavilion during the show.
Attendees will also notice several changes which have taken place throughout the showground since the last show was held in 2019.
The cattle sheds have been re-roofed and the trade pavilion has a new concrete floor with “heritage friendly” walls yet to be constructed.
A new amenities block is currently being built alongside the T. J. Ford Pavilion which will include modern toilet facilities, a storeroom and a shower for the dedicated volunteers who often live on site while setting up the displays ahead of the shows official opening.
Senior Vice President of the Grafton Show Society Barry Reeves said he is tickled pink the amenities block is finally under construction and said it will make the Grafton Showground a better place for everyone to enjoy.
Mr Reeves said many events including weddings, funerals and social gatherings are held in the pavilion and many travellers also camp in the showground.
He is adamant the better the facilities are on site, the better it is for the future of the location and its reputation.
Mr Green said construction work will be completed on the amenities block before the gates open for the 2021 Grafton Show, adding the plumbing is already finished and the final concrete pour was done over the weekend.
“We’re working hard to have it finished in time for the show,” he said.
Mr Hogan said he is also looking forward to the 2021 Grafton Show, which is scheduled to be held on April 23 and 24.
“These events bring our families and farmers together, build community spirit and help bridge the divide between country and city,” he said.
“Local shows are uniquely Australian and provide huge economic spin-offs for the local communities hosting them as well as opportunities for the businesses and services who exhibit.”
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 17 February 2021.