By Colin MacGillivray
WHITTLESEA Show organisers are disappointed after calling off this weekend’s Whittlesea Show, but resolute in their commitment to host the show in January rather than scrapping it entirely.
On Saturday the Whittlesea Agricultural Society announced the show would be postponed to January 21 and 22 after persistent wet weather in recent weeks played havoc with preparations.
Society president Erica Hawke said the show’s committee of organisers was bitterly disappointed to delay the show after being forced to abandon it altogether due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021.
But Ms Hawke said many patrons had already signalled their intention to support the show in January, as had sponsors and exhibitors.
“It’s very disappointing for our members who have been working very hard to get us up off the ground again,” she said.
“But all the support from our members, councillors and sponsors has been fantastic, and they’ve been very understanding.
“There has been positive feedback on the decision to postpone the show instead of cancelling it. There are a lot more people who are able to come now that it’s going to be in January, which is wonderful.”
Ms Hawke said organisers waited as long as possible before postponing the show.
“It was a pretty emotional time. With all the work that goes into it, it was quite a hard decision, but when you look at the grounds they are completely unsuitable. You can’t even get cars on there, let alone trucks,” she said.
“The forecast was so inconsistent. Looking at the weather this week, there is more rain on the way, and because everything is already so wet, when we get more rain it just floods.
“There was a crew on the grounds who came on Thursday and Friday who were starting to set up marquees and they just couldn’t. They were slipping and sliding everywhere, and it just wasn’t safe.
“There was no way out. Even if we had a week of sunshine and 25-degree days, I don’t think there was any way the ground could dry out.”
Ms Hawke said a lack of suitable parking space was another issue, with parkland adjacent to the showgrounds inundated with water.
She said Whittlesea Agricultural Society would explore the possibility of hosting some show-related equestrian events in December to allow for qualification for the state championships, but that some horse events would still happen during show weekend in January.
Ms Hawke said the show committee remained enthusiastic about creating the best possible show in January.
“We want to thank everybody for their support and understanding with our decision. It was a very hard decision to make,” she said.
“Your heart and soul goes into organising a show, and we were nearly there, but we’re just postponing. It’s not in our vocabulary to cancel given the last two years that we’ve had.”