Written By Michael Kennedy, General Manager
The ActewAGL Royal Canberra Show is on 28th February to 1st March and held at Exhibition Park in Canberra. The ground is ACT Government owned and the RNCAS is a hirer not an owner of the ground. We are on 110 acres inside the ground with approx.100 acres outside used as event overflow and parking. We have 8500sqm indoor exhibition space. EPIC is located 10 minutes out of the centre of Canberra and for the first year serviced by a light rail.
The RNCAS own several buildings on the ground and have invested heavily over the years in building stables and other facilities that we use for the show but are then available for EPIC to hire out during the year. You can imagine the complications this strange arrangement causes the ACT government legal people when we come to negotiate a lease.
It is always a challenge having a show on the last weekend of February in Australia. We can have 40-degree heat or the 50-year flood which we had in 2018. This year just to make things more challenging we are ringed by fires. At our last Council meeting before the show we had a 1/3 of our councillors absent out working on the fires. I have seen the strain that the fires have put on our people. The Councillors, Members and Competitors are all suffering and we are treading lightly this year.
The fires and smoke continually raise problems for us. What stock will we get to compete? Can the horses be worked up ready for the show? Will there be any entries in the vegetable sections? If the smoke comes in on a public show day will the public turn up? All questions that will be answered in only a few weeks.
One of the consequences of active fires. Our Councillor in charge of the working dog section has advised us that all is going to plan but, the sheep are coming from Tidbinbilla and it is under an active fire threat and will be for a long time to come, so getting the sheep may be a test. We will wait and see.
As the event organiser you worry about these matters then you see some daylight through the gloom. The Horse section which is our biggest section at the Canberra Royal is again BIG. With entries closed we have 975 horses competing which equates to 3535 entries. The Horse section starts on the Tuesday 3 days before the show opens to the public with many people having competed and left before the show even starts. The main arena is 10 acres and we can run up to 9 rings at a time. There are plusses and minuses with our Arena, it is a very impressive sight when full but then exceptionally hard to water and get ready for the show in a drought. It is a big arena and one challenge is to have entertainment on it. A big arena needs big entertainment, but you have always to balance that with the available budget.
We have a good-sized side show area and we are a ‘Guild show.’ With all of the regional shows having being cancelled the showmen will be looking for Canberra to be a successful show.
We have had a late surge in our cattle numbers with 150 but aiming for 200 which would be a good result considering the tough conditions.
We open our show on the Thursday night before at the ‘Presidents Reception’. We change locations for this each year and this year we will be in the Craft pavilion. We are honoured that David Hurley the Governor-General of Australia and his wife will be opening the show for us on the night. When I spoke to him at the ECCA he said he was looking forward to his ‘local show’. There are some advantages of living in Canberra!
We have had 10 regional shows cancel recently due to the fires. This would have been a very difficult decision for them to make. When considering our show, the Board of the RNCAS took the view that we must proceed. We wanted to give people somewhere to compete. It was very important to us that we give people either competitors or public, somewhere to come and meet with friends, have a debrief. Share a healthy meal have a beer and enjoy a bit of music with friends.
It’s not all doom and gloom we are upbeat and looking forward to successful show. I hope you can make it to Canberra, we would love to see you