EVENTS at AELEC are as strong as ever and growing in spite of the current drought conditions, says manager Mike Rowland.
And he is as surprised as any with equine and livestock events continuing fill the schedule and no shortage of competitors travelling to Tamworth.
We genuinely thought we would see a real reduction by now in some of those events.AELEC manager - Mike Rowland
He expected the drought would have stifled numbers by now.
“It is quite incredible, it continues to grow in spite of the conditions.” Mr Rowland told The Leader.
“It is genuinely surprising.
“We genuinely thought we would see a real reduction by now in some of those events.”
There was more than 30 horse and livestock related events on the AELEC calendar this year with the 2018 Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Iron Cowboy less than two weeks away.
While 2018 has been a year of growth, Mr Rowland expressed some trepidation about the near future if there wasn’t a turn around in conditions.
“There’s no doubt, early next year, some of those bigger events where they do need a lot of cattle, there will be a bigger question mark over with some of those,” he said.
“It may well be they’re going to have to go to other areas where there will be more cattle, but it will depend on the season.”
The equine centre recently received funding from the state government for some minor upgrades, as part of phase two of the Northern Inland Center of Sporting Excellence precinct development.
New roofing will be added to existing warm-up arenas which could mean some of the centre’s staple events would have more room to grow.
“There’s a couple of events like the National Cutting Horse Association for the annual futurity, the Australian Stock Horse Society, the Landmark Classic, those sort of events, they’ve outgrown our existing facility,” he said.
“This will allow them, rather than have to spend significant amounts of money on hiring the infrastructure, we will have that infrastructure in place and it allow their events to grow.”
The AELEC manager said it wouldn’t “drought-proof” the South Tamworth facility, but it would help once it starts raining again.
“Whether it is rain or the heat, from a welfare perspective, the riders or the stock, they’re going to be fully under cover,” he said.
Looking ahead to the long-term future, Mr Rowland said AELEC was already “top of the tree” in Australia when it came to horse events, but said it was a few lengths behind in the race for Tamworth supremacy.
“I think it would be difficult for it to overtake country music,” he said.
“It’s such a fantastic brand for Tamworth, but absolutely, through AELEC, our venue is considered the best in the country, there’s no doubt about that.”
This year marked a decade since AELEC opened its doors and the continued success is no surprise.
“It’s not surprising because there was so much planning and so much work that went into the process,” he said.