Bourke Show cancelled due to lack of water, dry conditions

Photo: File
Photo: File

The ongoing lack of water and dry conditions has resulted in the upcoming Bourke Show to be cancelled, with committee members saying they did not make the decision lightly.

The Committee of the Bourke Pastoral & Agricultural Association met on February, 20, 2019 and resolved to cancel the Bourke Show,which was planned for May, 11.

Bourke Show President Ben Ritchie said the decision took a while to come to and the committee had been talking about it seriously for a month before the meeting.

"Our committee is aware it does leave a significant gap in the calendar for Bourke, a lot of people look forward to the Show and it was a very, very hard decision," he said.

"But we believed it was the right decision we made at the time."

Currently Bourke Shire is on level five water restrictions.

"Our water situation in town is quote drastic at the moment. There's always someone worse off but there's hardly any water in the river, we're on level five restrictions.. there's a fair chance we could go to level six by the time the Show is on," Mr Ritchie said.

The Bourke Show president said the local Council was doing as much as they can with the installation of more bores which will hopefully create more flows.

"But there still isn't going to be enough water to water the gardens and it's pretty harsh if we start watering our Showgrounds and people are losing their gardens. We didn't feel comfortable doing that

Mr Ritchie ongoing drought conditions was just one of the reasons why they made the heartbreaking decision to cancel the 2019 show.

"We're sort of half used to droughts," Mr Ritchie said.

"But the lack of water is a big issue as well. You get droughts and sometimes there's still water in the river but there's just no water to do anything."

The lack of water in the town became a safety factor in the arenas for the horses.

"Normally we do a lot of ground work there and prep, smooth it out, water it.. so we can't do that this year because there's just not enough water," he said.

Another industry that would have been impacted was the wool and sheep displays in the pavilions.

"...The wool would be down because the the wool clip out here has dropped a fair bit due to the season and we normally have sheep and rams on display but people aren't too keen about moving stock unless there's a huge reason to do it," Mr Ritchie said.

"There's also less sheep out here so that would be down. Even our pavilion would be down."

Mr Ritchie said the committee thought about doing a Show without these things, but they were hesitant to do so because previous year's events have received really positive feedback.

"We didn't want to do a shocker…. if it doesn't work it can cost a lot of money," he said.

"It costs us about $30,000 to put a Show on. So if it fizzes out… then it leaves us with a pretty big hole in what we have."

Currently the Showgrounds look okay, Mr Ritchie said, but with Easter races coming up they didn't want to cause any damage by holding another event.

"Once it's had quite a fair few people.. it's going to knock the grounds around. We've got new trees… we thought by the time it's had the races and then it's had us, we'd really be putting a stress on any ground cover, any lawn wee got there atm.

"We thought if we could halve that pressure that's got to be good going forward."

Mr Ritchie has been on the committee for 15 years, with many of the sponsors and supporters on board for a long time too.

"It's a big thing putting a Show together. And we didn't want to put something together that could well fail," Mr Ritchie said.

"Once you commit to entertainment coming up and sponsors giving us money, we did not want to then ring up and say 'sorry we've cancelled at the last minute.'

He hopes coming in to 2020 will see more people to sign up to be a part of the Bourke Show committee.

"We're hoping it may encourage people for maybe next year (to come on board the Show committee).. and make it bigger than ever if we can get more people interested to join our small committee for us that would be a big bonus," Mr Ritchie said.

The committee however are hopeful the Bourke Showgirl and Bourke Youth Ambassador programs will continue in 2019.

Mr Ritchie said if current entrants are still keen to participate, and more people throw their interest, then it will go ahead.

"We're hoping to get that to go ahead but yet again… we still need to get people to do that," he said.

Mr Ritchie said if Bouke Shire was to receive rain they could possibly look at doing something later this year.

"So if anybody out there is keen to see this Show up and running and being as good as it has been in the past, by all means contact somebody you know on the Show committee…." he said.

The Bourke Show date isn't set by the Bourke Show committee, but by ARC.

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