This article originally appeared on thecourier.com.au
A call is imminent on the 2020 edition of the 162-year-old show, which is scheduled for November 13-15, with a meeting scheduled for June 24.
The final decision will come down to what the state government announces within the next two weeks regarding the easing of social restrictions.
However, it appears that unless outdoor gatherings of up to 1000 people are allowed, it is unlikely that the show will be able to go ahead in its usual form as planned.
This year major shows including the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, a host of Queensland and South Australian events and the Royal Melbourne Show, which usually runs in the September school holidays, have been cancelled.
It leaves major Victorian provincial shows such as Geelong (scheduled for October 15-18), Bendigo (October 23-24) and Ballarat as the only events of its type around the country as well as smaller spring events.
Ballarat Agricultural and pastoral Society executive officer Elizabeth van Beek said the association is already fielding calls regarding entries for this year, but at this stage is unable to accept applications.
“We’re already getting phone calls from people wanting to participate, it does take a few months of organisation to have things ready,” she said.
“So many of the smaller regional ones have cancelled, so we’d expect to get a lot of people if we were going ahead, but if we’re still limited by numbers, how will we be able to make that work?
“None of us have a crystal ball, but if we don’t go ahead, we’d potentially look at having smaller events and have some fun that we can keep on the map, give something for people to go out and do.”
Ms van Beek said the agricultural society was hopeful rather than confident an event could be held.
“In reality when you’ve got stalls, animals and their handlers, visitors, security and staff, you would need 1000 people at a time and if you are limited to that, how do you police it? Do we have time tickets and how do you police that?” she said.
“The virus is certainly testing everyone. But the silver lining is for some people it’s a chance to rethink things, and how we do things better.”
A decision on whether the show will proceed will have major ramifications on the public holiday calendar as well.
If the show is cancelled, the City of Ballarat will need to decide whether the public holiday on Friday goes ahead or whether it moves to Melbourne Cup Day or is cancelled.
There are also doubts as to if or when the AFL grand final public holiday will be held, as the AFL is still to make a call on when the season decider will be played.
Should the grand final take place over the weekend of October 31 and November 1, there is a possibility of a grand final public holiday being on the Monday prior to the Melbourne Cup.
Ballarat businesses have already called for a scrapping of the grand final public holiday, however tourism operators would see a potential boon if it becomes a four-day long weekend.
Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett told The Courier last week the removal of one public holiday would be welcomed by businesses under pressure.
“This has been the most difficult year business has ever faced,” she said. “We call on the government to assist business by removing the AFL grand final public holiday for 2020.
“We need to protect our businesses and therefore protect our jobs for our communities.”