This article originally appeared on The Glen Innes Examiner.
Tickets to this year’s Glen Innes show will be free of charge, after the Glen Innes council unanimously decided to spend part of a bushfire recovery fund to finance the event.
The Glen Innes Severn Council this week announced they will front up the $65,900 cash to pay everyone’s tickets for the event, normally $40 a pop.
Show president Andrew Hancock said he hopes free entry will make the Royal of the North, already one of the state’s best agricultural events, the biggest and best it’s ever been.
“To be honest we were really worried about this year’s show,” he said.
“We’re so lucky to get such good support from the community; not a lot of other shows get that, but we’re well-supported.
“We know how hard people are finding it at the moment, how hard it is.”
Council General Manager Craig Bennet said the council would dip into a million dollars the Federal government had granted to bushfire-affected communities for recovery funding.
“We’re delighted to be able to offer this funding with unanimous support from our councillors,” he said.
“Council are focused on supporting projects that help our community on the road to recovery and renewal following the recent fire and drought devastation.”
A beaming show president Andrew Hancock said it would allow people of all shapes and sizes, both rural and townies to front up and celebrate the Glen Innes community, despite the financial and social impact of drought, bushfire and the water crisis.
“This has come at the right time just to help people along, to get them along to the show, to have a good time.
“I can’t see why it wouldn’t be as full as it’s ever been.”
The show program is also shaping up to be the biggest and flashiest ever, with a monster truck show set to be a centrepiece for the three-day event.
Mr Hancock said funding the show through bushfire recovery funding made sense.
“It’s to do with the mental health side I think,” he said.
“Getting people communicating.”
He said the show would also help farmers by providing information on new machinery and processes.
“It’s mainly to help the community to get back on its feet.
“It’s only a small part of the million they’ve got and I’m sure there’ll be other more specific ones to help people (with bushfire recovery).”
Council had planned to ask the Federal government to pay tickets through a different program, the Drought Communities Program, but times were too tight to lock in the subsidy before the February event.
People who’ve already purchased memberships will have $40 reimbursed, with the $15 balance paying for a carpark and the show books.
Manager of economic development Margot Davis said council staff would also work to provide additional marketing support for the event.
“The annual agricultural show is one of our largest and most cherished events on the calendar,” she said.