Our industrious Bellingen Show volunteers have just returned from a true journey of mercy. Ten of our local volunteers travelled to Tenterfield this past weekend to provide much needed assistance to the Tenterfield Show. Because as show people know- “The Show Must Go On!”
The Bellingen Agricultural Show Society members have been keenly aware of the personal and financial devastation left in the wake of the recent drought and bushfires in our region. The impact has extended to regional Agricultural Shows with more than 20 agricultural shows having fallen victim to drought conditions and fire so far this financial year.
When Bellingen Show Society President, Gillian Anderson, (pictured above with Matt Duff, Tenterfield Agricultural Show President), heard that the 2020 Tenterfield Show was in need of assistance due to a paucity of local volunteers, she mustered a team of volunteers prepared to travel to Tenterfield to provide the assistance required. “It was difficult to recruit local farmers already coping with drought, moving stock and carting fodder and water as well as fighting fires” explained Tenterfield Show Secretary Robyn Murray.
As a result the Bellingen Show Society’s “Convoy of Care” came into being, reflecting the generosity and support people are providing each other during these difficult times. “We know the hard work that goes into organising a regional agricultural show and the things that agricultural shows mean to and offer people in rural areas. Our people are pleased to be able to reach out and lend some support to a fellow Show Society particularly at this time,” says Gillian.
We held up this weary convoy as it made its way back into Bellingen, to hear from Gillian about the experience.
Gillian is there are real camaraderie amongst ‘show volunteers’ from different regions?
People volunteering in Agricultural Shows are certainly part of a ‘show family’. There are more volunteers giving their time to help at Agricultural Shows than any other volunteer organisation in Australian. So this is a very big family. (Australian Show Association Survey).
The Tenterfield Show volunteers were extremely friendly and welcoming, greeting us with a sausage sizzle on the Friday night. They made sure we had enough support and provided us with food vouchers, free camping for those with vans and even presented us with a thank you gift.
Did you manage to get any ideas that would be transferable to the Bellingen Agricultural Show?
Idea swapping was a constant theme over the weekend. Tenterfield Show is quite a different show to the Bellingen Show, but still we have many similarities and discussion will continue about thoughts and ideas we can adopt and build on. We loved the sheep dog trials, and although we do not have the room or facilities for sheep dog trials in Bellingen, there are Dog Agility events that could be explored. The Fashion Parade was great, especially the remade and recycled section. We would love to see our crafty community be involved there.
How would you describe the overall experience for our 10 Bellingen volunteers?
We had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed each other’s company. You could say we were building our own Show Family. I’m proud to say we were a wonderful team of workers and boy we did work. There were long shifts over the weekend, but we were all happy to be busy and enjoyed meeting new people and seeing different events.
The young people were very evident at the Tenterfield Show. Large numbers come home for the event -a time to meet up with friends and share some time together, especially at the Bar in the evenings with bands on each night. It was a great atmosphere.