Sheryl Lowe, Naracoorte Community News
Penola PA & H Society celebrated the opening of their new pavilion in October 2021 after receiving a $79,540.00 boost in Federal Government funding to support the build at McCorquindale Park. Committee member Rick Paltridge MC’d the official opening.
The $700,000 funding pool was shared between four show societies in the South East to renew showgrounds and pavilions.
The opening was a double celebration for Show Secretary Kathy Fennell who became the 70th Life Member of the Society following in the footsteps of Miss McCorquindale, the first Life Member in 1950 and who gifted the land to the Show Society that year in recognition of her early pioneering family in the district.
This week Ms. Fennell was honoured again on Australia Day, receiving the Riddoch Ward Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of a wide range of community activities which included her work with the Show Society.
The old Warner pavilion is of a similar size to the new one, but had seen better days and was in serious need of repair. It had been designed for showcasing sheep when they were an integral part of any local show.
Since the inception of the Rural Ambassador Competition 20 years ago, Penola has excelled with some contestants winning the state finals. Penola Show has had an ambassador and a junior ambassador every year. Ms. Fennell has been instrumental in arranging annual contestants in the Show Ambassador category for many years.
Penola was considered the centre of the South East in the mid 1800’s and so, the first regional shows were held there in1864,1865 and 1866.
Competitors and exhibitors came from across the region as well as over the border in Victoria including the Leake Brothers from Glencoe, the Robertsons from Straum. The Riddochs from Penola and Kalangadoo, the Smiths from Hynam and the Seymour family from Killanoola.
The PA & H Society held its first local show in 1868 at the current grounds after an unsettling time moving around four different sites. Previously the showgrounds were where the Penola Primary School oval is now.
This site was chosen as competitors could unload their livestock at the former Penola Railway Station which is just across the road from the school oval. The original Show Hall still stands.
Local fundraising contributed $38,000 to the project. Much more was contributed by ‘in-kind’ donations and their names are included on the ‘Contributors Board’ hung in the pavilion.
Donations of wood from OneFortyOne was put to good use by committee members who built BBQ tables and seats from the generous gift. The tables are owned by the Show Society, but are also available for use by sporting and recreational activities at McCorquindale Park.
Local cabinetmaker and committee member, Jake Rowe supervised the construction. The six adult size tables have been replicated by Jake in a mini-me size for small visitors.
The new pavilion is quite large, but the siting is quite discreet committee members say, and it also opens up the Penola Show Cattle Section with a better view of proceedings for everyone attending.
The committee called for tenders for the pavilion with local manufacturers. The successful tender came from Mt Gambier. Their design wasn’t the cheapest but the Company was very professional and easy work with.
The pavilion is a tremendous asset, not only for the annual show but also for the Penola community in general. The community can now host markets, festivals, functions and trade expos throughout the year which really showcases its flexibility. It can also be used for under cover sporting and training events.
Show President Kinta Wilson and 2021 Rural Ambassador Jake Rowe attended the opening. Jake was equal winner in the state finals with Mundulla’s Brodie Lock. Ms. Wilson and her committee were recognized on the day for their dedication to the successful project.
The Penola Show was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to covid-19 restrictions but Ms.
Fennell found ways to show case flowers, cars and crafts and other ‘entries’ at smaller
venues to keep the spirit of the show alive.
She accepted her Australia Day Award at the combined ward event in the Millicent Civic and Arts Centre.
Ms. Fennell said she was humbled and grateful for the award. She said she had heard a whisper that Wattle Range Council was considering reducing the number of Australia Day Award recipients to just one each year, an act which she discouraged, saying there are so many deserving people in ‘our’ community who should be recognized.
She congratulated council on the event but said she hoped the Riddoch Ward Australia Day event would return to her hometown of Penola next year.
This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.