Event casualties

Narrandera Show Society president Tony Andracchio, pictured at a more promising 2019 show set-up, is disappointed the 2020 show will not go ahead. Photo: Kieren Tilly.

As the Federal Government initiates rollbacks of COVID-19 restrictions, the region’s events and agricultural show sector remains in a world of indecision.

A decision is pending on the Narrandera Shire’s major event, the Good Old Days Festival, which drew a record crowd of 7000 people last year from around the nation.

But, Narrandera’s annual show is another casualty of the pandemic with the society being directed by the Agriculture Societies Council of NSW to cancel the September 5 event.

The Good Old Days Festival committee has been split over whether to go ahead with the event slated for October 3-4 with a decision to be made when the committee reconvenes on May 22.

President Bruce Bandy said he had been contacted by many horse owners keen to get their animals out working and competing again. Mr Bandy said the festival’s precursor and fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease, Tribute to the Teams, may still be held.

The future of Barellan’s show on August 29 remains under a cloud, along with shows at Ganmain on August 22, and Wagga on September 11-12.

However, planning continues for the 2020 Griffith Garden Festival on October 16, Griffith Vintage Festival on October 3, Deni Ute Muster on October 2-3, and Wagga’s Gears ‘n’ Beers on October 4.

Narrandera Show Society president Tony Andracchio said unknowns around social distancing regulations has meant all shows within the South Western Group 9 were likely to be cancelled. This includes Narrandera, Ariah Park, Ardlethan, Weethalle and West Wyalong.

Mr Andracchio said the decision was to be reviewed by Group 9 in August but Narrandera needed a decision by July for planning to get underway.

“If the social distancing regulations are cleared by the end of September, we might have the horse events, the art display in the hall and hopefully the truck show will come on board,” he said. “It will be a day to get the people out after being locked in for the last few months. It’s frustrating when we don’t know what will happen.”

Mr Andracchio said the committee was unable to meet to plan the show, and older volunteers may be unavailable to help.

“All our grants have been put on hold,” he said. “We had a demolition derby and other attractions booked in.

“Hay is the week after ours and at this stage their show is cancelled. It’s very sad this is happening but we have to go by the rules.

“At this time of the year we used to go out and get sponsorship – I have put that on hold as I’m not game enough to knock on someone’s door for a donation when everyone’s struggling. This will happen to all towns.”

Mr Andracchio is hopeful the show can resume in 2021 bigger and better.

“It all depends how the winter months pan out with this virus still around,” he said.

A decision is also pending on another major event scheduled for Narrandera on October 2-4, Rockin’ on East, traditionally drawing around 3500 visitors.

Headline act Midnight Drifters had been secured for the festival but president Allen Law said the committee would make a decision this week whether to hold it or roll the event over to 2021.

“If the number of people able to be in a club or a pub is limited, it is no good us doing our festival as just on a Saturday night in the Ex-Serviceman’s Club auditorium there would be 250 people, and another 150 in the other section,” he said.

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