Traralgon’s showground spruce up

Michelle Slater

The Traralgon show has been assured a secure future with a $20,000 sponsorship commitment for extensive renovations, however it also means this year’s show will not go ahead.

Traralgon and District Agricultural Society committee person Caitlin Grigsby said it was an “emotional decision”to cancel what was to be the 130th Traralgon show for the second year in a row.

However, she stressed that putting the late November event on ice would allow the committee time to reinvigorate the show to entice more people through the gates.

Ms Grigsby said the committee made the decision on Tuesday when two local businesses confirmed a combined $20,000 worth of sponsorship to renovate the historic pavilion at theTraralgon showgrounds,and an additional $5000 in materials.

“The committee is very optimistic and we don’t want to give out the message that the show has been given up on, but if we don’t evolve I would ask how much longer could it go on for?” Ms Grigsby said.

“We have three or four new young members on the committee who helped inform this decision, they are helping us to engage new blood into the show ,and their ideas are exciting and inspiring.”

The Traralgon show was cancelled last year when the pavilion was hit by a car damaging a wall. The event was also rained out in 2017 following a major funding campaign to reinvigorate and save the struggling show.

Ms Grigsby said the pavilion would be repaired and renovated into a co-working space that could be used throughout the year by local community groups.

She said works would commence within a fortnight, starting with an all-abilities access ramp into the rural room, kitchen renovations, structure repairs, a lick of paint, indoor toilets and secretary office repairs.

Ms Grigsby said the committee did not just want to renovate the building, but to develop new ideas to bring the event back “bigger and better”.

She said the local community had given feedback that the show had become too expensive for families, which was resulting in fewer people through the turnstiles.

“We want to shift from business as usual in the past 100 years to bringing in new ideas to make the show more enticing for young people,” she said.

“We forecast 30 per cent more people through the gates if we take a break for a year to build low-cost, free activities for families.”

MsGrigsby said they were developing partnerships with local businesses, youth organisations and community groups to create interactive activities, while retaining agricultural show traditions.

“There will be aspects of the show that will never change, such as the horse event qualifiers, rides, show bags, crafts and cooking, this will be honoured,” she said.

“But this is more about putting a modern spin on a traditional ag show. Finally we have the help to do what we have wanted to do for years.”

Traralgon show president Richard Morgan said the decision was backed by the entire committee “to take this moment and grow for the future”.