THIS weekend’s Tamworth Show is going back to its historic roots – admitting that a modern age, technological distractions, and competition from sporting events and other things has forced it to cut its show schedule back to two days.
The Sunday schedule has disappeared on the 140th anniversary of the show tradition in Tamworth.
The 2013 pastoral and agricultural event will be held over Friday and Saturday only, with Friday’s schedule a tilt to a modern generation with more junior events and a hope for a healthy young crowd to take in the traditional big Friday night sideshow and arena attractions.
The first ever show was held in 1873 and historians say it began as a two-day celebration before extending to three days and then to four days in 1980. It had been a three-day event for at least the past decade.
Although there are some new initiatives this year to entertain the crowds, for the first time ever some pavilion sections will not be held either, a victim of generational change and exhibitor disinterest, and others are struggling to attract entries.
Many smaller show societies have had to reinvent themselves too, with innovative new activities, different dates, and more modern razzle-dazzle stuff to take part in, rather than just rural exhibits.
Despite the downturn, organisers are pinning their hopes on a strong crowd turnout but say the contraction of the once-three day regional show back to two is also a sign of the times.
Tamworth Pastoral & Agricultural Association vice-president Don Riley said attendance had dropped on the Sunday in recent years.
“It’s just a decision made – there’s not a lot of people coming on the Sunday,” he said.
“In the town years ago it used to be the main event.”
Mr Riley said there were also a lot of sporting and cricket finals on during the same weekend.
But he said the show must go on.
“You’ve got to keep the country shows going,” Mr Riley said.
He said many competitors including school students were competing on the Friday, in particular.
Students were coming from Scone High, Narrabri High, St Joseph’s (Aberdeen), St Mary’s (Gunnedah) and Manilla High.
Younger people, despite their mobile phones and iPods, “still love the sideshows”, he said.
Attractions this year include monster trucks on the Friday night and a demolition derby on Saturday night.
The rodeo is free, he said.
The last event of the rodeo on Saturday night in the indoor arena was the popular interschool steer-riding challenge, with $500 up for grabs to the winning team.
The move by the show to the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC) which has been a talking point for Tamworth for some years now would not be happening until the showground was sold, he said.
“We are not going out to AELEC to run a half-baked show: people are going to have high expectations,” Mr Riley said.
Margaret Crowell, chief steward at the pavilion where all the craft items will be displayed, said entries would be taken for most items at the pavilion today – except for home brews and gardening and perishable vegetables tomorrow.
Patchworking and quilting had taken over dollmaking as the latest craftmaking fad, she said.
Scrapbooking was also growing in popularity.
“It’s huge and needs more space every year,” Mrs Crowell said.
For the first time ever, photography and art would not be held.
But schools were “getting very involved”.
“The juniors are brilliant ... junior handicraft is huge because the schools support it and the kids really love to have their things on display,” Mrs Crowell said.