COVID cancels Agfair
Wednesday, 3rd February, 2021
By Myles Burt
Concerns over future border closures has prompted the cancellation of Agfair this year.
Planned to be held on May 6 and 7, committee chairman Kevin Taylor said, Agfair had been cancelled as the idea of state borders shutting off at any given moment posing a huge issue for organisers and attendees.
Mr Taylor said a large majority of exhibitors at Agfair travel from SA, VIC and even QLD for the event.
He said paying $50,000 to $60,000 to house exhibitors is a huge risk if one state decides to close its borders; cutting out a large amount of exhibitors from attending.
“Out of the exhibitors I would say probably 200 of those exhibitors would come from interstate,” Mr Taylor said.
“Just the uncertainty of not knowing whether we’d have exhibitors, have hoppers or even have the ability to do the COVID regulations, etc.
“Western Australia is a classic example at the moment, it’s hunky dory one day but next day it’s all doom and gloom.”
Whilst border closures have been a prominent issue, Mr Taylor said abiding to COVID regulations was also a big concern.
Mr Taylor said it would be hard to enforce COVID regulations given the large crowd numbers compared to the sizes of pavilions. Bringing in a celebrity chef at a big expense, would be a challenge to host the drawcard event which brings in around 300 to 400 locals; a number that would decrease to a 100 person limit under COVID restrictions.
“Once again controlling that and seating, etc, was just too much of a gamble,” Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor said a lot of other Agfair styled events around Australia have also cancelled due to the risk of border closures.
He said the South East Field Day, a huge agricultural event in Lucindale, SA have cancelled this year which was set to be held around the same time as Agfair.
Mr Taylor said witnessing a domino effect of cancellations a unanimous decision by their 12 committee members was made to cancel the event.
So exhibitors, sponsors and tent providers could be given adequate notice.
“We just weren’t confident enough to try and gaze into that crystal ball,” Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor said while general feedback to their Facebook announcement of Agfair being cancelled was quite negative, the feedback from all their exhibitors has been fantastic.
Mr Taylor said 75 to 80 per cent of Agfair exhibitors have offered to have their site fees put on hold for Agfair 2022.
“That’s been very pleasing,” Mr Taylor said.
The AgFair Committee being a joint venture between the Broken Hill Rotary Club and the Pastoralists Association of West Darling (PAWD), the decision to cancel didn’t disappoint pastoralists too much.
Mr Taylor said a lot of pastoralists within the district are quite happy to stay in their own little bubble on their stations at the present, with most only coming into town when absolutely necessary.
“They weren’t that keen to mix with 5,000 people through a gate on any particular day anyway,” Mr Taylor said.
There are hopes 2022 will bring a bumper harvest for their next Agfair event, as mass cancellations of field day events across the country might have exhibitors itching to show off their pavilions.
As Far West pastoralists have been dealt a heavy hand over the last couple of year with drought, Mr Taylor said while the drought is beginning to break nobody in the region is able to buy stock at the moment.
Mr Taylor hopes pastoralists across the district will be in a better financial position come Agfair 2022.