Rumours about Murray Bridge Show society not all accurate, president says

The show will not go ahead this year, but Anna Scheepers remains optimistic about 2021.

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At this time of year, Murray Bridge Showground would usually be abuzz with activity.

With the annual show only weeks away, volunteers from the agricultural and horticultural society would be tidying up pavillions and stockyards, taking entries and working the phones.

But this year, with the 102nd Murray Bridge Show cancelled due to COVID-19, the atmosphere is very different – downright troubling.

The show society is fighting for survival.

Show society's bank balance has been hit hard

President Anna Scheepers said three factors had combined to deal a hammer blow to the Murray Bridge Agricultural and Horticultural Society.

The first was the shutdown by Safe Work SA of a company which was to have provided rides at the 2019 show.

“All the major rides we had booked to come to the show weren’t there, and ... no-one came to look at anything else,” Ms Scheepers said.

“So we didn’t have a good show last year.

“We found ourselves in a bit of a financial bind.”

That bind worsened when committee members became aware of what Ms Scheepers described as “poor record keeping in the show office”.

Several section convenors and other committee members resigned in protest over the way the situation was handled.

“There wasn’t anything untoward that happened, but not everything that should have happened did,” Ms Scheepers said, choosing her words carefully.

“That presented a problem for us, which we have now fixed.

“People make mistakes.

“I think we should leave our stones in the garden, from where I’m standing – none of us is blameless in anything.”

Finally came COVID-19, smashing any chance at a rebound in 2020.

102nd Murray Bridge Show will go ahead next September

Still, the 2021 show would go ahead “come hell or high water”, Ms Scheepers said, so long as COVID-related restrictions allowed it.

It would be a one-day event on Saturday, September 26, a date that was unlikely to change regardless of any clash with football finals or the pedal prix.

But the society would need to come up with $25,000 to $30,000 between now and the middle of next year to make it happen.

Insurance alone cost $12,000 per year; and keeping the showground running cost $500 a month, a task made harder when few visitors were using the RV friendly parking area.

She expressed confidence that the society’s new treasurer, who came with “really good credentials”, would help it squeak through.

“At the moment ... we’re looking at putting together a good financial plan,” she said.

“But we’re going to require funding from somewhere.”

The show will also need volunteers.

“We understand people have lives, they’re busy, they have all sorts of things to do, but an hour here or there can make a big difference,” she said.

A new committee will be elected at the show society’s annual general meeting in November.

A final decision about the 2021 event will have to be made by about April.

“We haven’t lost our enthusiasm and passion for the show,” Ms Scheepers said.

“We just need to drag it out a bit from this year into next.”

Photo of Murray Bridge Agricultural and Horticultural Society vice president Richard Hein and president Anna Scheepers: Peri Strathearn.

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