Show's over for Mullumbimby
FOR the first time in a century, Mullumbimby residents will this year miss out on their annual agricultural show.
In its place will be two events from the normal show roster, to be held on November 8, that the show society's out-going committee organised last year in the expectation its ageing members would have been replaced by a new team in time to organise the 2008 event.
And if something does not change soon, Mullumbimby residents next year might not even get that.
Mullumbimby Show Society secretary Sue Constable said the organising committee was still to receive any expressions of interest from potential new members wanting to take over and run the show.
“We presumed a new committee would have taken over by now, but it's looking a bit dim and we may have to put the show on hold until someone steps up,” she said.
Mrs Constable, who has been the show secretary for 24 years, said every show went through highs and lows and the Mullumbimby Show was not dead, just resting.
“The committee has taken on board ideas from both young and old community members and has tried to keep the show innovative and appealing,” she said.
“The Kyogle Show missed a year six years ago and they came back bigger and better. I don't see why Mullumbimby can't do the same.”
However, Lismore businessman and North Coast National Show Society member Phil Hanlon warns that local agriculture shows are dying out and pointed to the doubtful future of Mullumbimby's 100 year-old show as proof.
Mr Hanlon said many show organisers were stuck in the 1960s and warned it was no longer enough to expect big crowds for a rodeo and a few horses.
“Agriculture shows can still have their unique features, but the volume needs to be turned up,” he said.
Mr Hanlon said the dwindling numbers at many local shows was because organisers were missing the most important factor - entertainment.
“It isn't rocket science, you just need to know what turns people on and give them value for money,” he said.
“You give them entertainment and the gate takings will go up.”
It was a formula Mr Hanlon said music festival organisers had demonstrated effectively at Byron Bay.
The North Coast National has focused heavily on re-inventing itself in recent years and Mr Hanlon said it was important for shows to appeal to all age groups.
“Lismore's show in October will have world-class acts, celebrity food challenges and a sustainable living expo to appeal to everyone from school kids to farmers,” he said.
Mr Hanlon said, sooner or later, local agriculture shows such as Mullumbimby would die if show organisers did not provide something unique and special for both the community and visitors.
Kyogle show society president Les O'Reilly said the success of his town's show came from new features that appealed to different age groups.
“The sustainable living expo and a celebrity aspect will be introduced into this weekend's show,” he said. “We are trying to attract a younger age group while creating a new edge.”
Northern Rivers Tourism chief executive Russell Mills blamed dwindling show numbers on organisers failing to appeal to visitors.
“Local shows can potentially have huge economic benefits for the community, but there needs to be attraction for both locals and visitors,” Mr Mills said.
He said the Mullumbimby Show and others needed to build the unique characteristics of the town into the show.
“By appealing to alternative lifestyles and creating innovative ideas, Mullumbimby can refresh and revitalise itself,” Mr Mills said.
Mr Mills said the Kyogle Show was an example of a rural agricultural show unique and relevant to its town's character.
“Kyogle Show organisers have seen the light and the Mullumbimby Show can get there too,” he said.
Mr Mills said there was a reason why country towns had these shows and why coastal towns such as Ballina and Byron did not.
“The Byron Shire, Ballina and Lennox Head have embraced their own iconic themes, so we connect Byron with music festivals and Lennox for surfing, while Ballina has River Fest,” Mr Mills said.
Mr Mills said Events NSW was created by the State Government last year to promote and nurture regional events such as these.
Anyone interested in joining the Mullumbimby Show Society should call 6684 1675.