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Cold community response may herald end for Great Northern Show

Organisers are blaming chilly weather for the poor turnout at the weekend's agricultural show in Rochester.

ELAINE COONEY February 26, 2014 4:10am

Australian Working Dog Rescue's Carey Edwards with Nimble at the Great Northern Show on Saturday.


Visitor numbers were down at Rochester’s Great Northern Show raising speculation it may be the last.

Show president Heather Watson said the cold weather on Friday night may have deterred people from venturing out and was disappointed by Saturday’s turnout.

‘‘I feel embarrassed that people brought dogs from Sydney and there wasn’t many people around to watch them,’’ she said.

‘‘Unless we get more help from our community this is possibly the last show.’’

Mrs Watson said the committee once had 40 members, but was down to eight.

She said entries to the various competitions remained steady and people who attended enjoyed the day.

Campaspe News spoke to several people throughout the weekend who said the show was not appealing to the younger generation.

Mrs Watson agreed with the sentiment but said the committee needed new blood and young people with fresh ideas to revamp the show.

She said many of the free events, such as the working dogs, Segways and fireworks were a heavy expense on the show when they were getting few people through the gates.

Show treasurer Lynette Bickley said she expected the show to have suffered a loss this year.

‘‘The takings are all down on last year,’’ she said.

Although she hadn’t tallied up Friday night’s balance sheet, takings from Saturday were down on last year.

‘‘This is the worst year for us. It was not down on last year by a huge amount, but last year wasn’t as good as previous years,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve always had good gate takings in previous years.’’

Ms Bickley said if the show society did not receive more help and support from the district community, it would have to think seriously about the show’s future.

‘‘If there is an influx of volunteers, we’ll probably try to make something of it,’’ she said.

‘‘Over the next couple of months, we’ll have to make a decision on what happens with the show.’’

Life member Fairlie McDonald remembered a difficult patch in the show’s history in 1969 when the committee changed the show from spring to autumn.

There was no show in 1970 because the committee needed to find a Saturday in autumn that would not clash with another show in Victoria.

She said the 1970s was a good decade for the show.

Mrs McDonald said the Rochester and district residents would wait for the event with great excitement.

‘‘Now people go to something every week and things change in agriculture,’’ she said.

She said once Rochester was known for its sheep farming but now the show did not have a sheep event.

Mrs McDonald believed another reason for the decrease in attendees was modern communication.

She said in the 1970’s people entered the animals shows to see what standard their animals were compared to others in the region but now much of that information was available online or at one of the many other animal events across the state.

The Great Northern Show committee will meet on March 19, at 8pm at Rochester Community House and everyone is invited to help the committee with fresh ideas.

More photos, pages 4-5

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