25 March, 2022

Show societies battle Covid mandate

WITH regional show ‘season’ about to begin, volunteer show societies are concerned the need for patrons to show their vaccination status could hurt attendance figures.

Marcus shamble, CEO of the Caboolture Show Society said they would be employing security guards to check for vaccine status at this year's show.
Marcus shamble, CEO of the Caboolture Show Society said they would be employing security guards to check for vaccine status at this year's show.

Marcus Shimbel, CEO of the Caboolture Show Society, said the current Queensland Government regulations mean regional show societies are responsible for checking the vaccination staus of patrons.

“We are still planning to run our show, but it does increase our expenditure, shows will have to increase the number of volunteers on gate duty,” Mr Shimbel said.

With many show society members aged ‘over 60’, Mr Shimbel said Caboolture Show Society would be hiring security guards to handle the vaccination status.

“It does increase our expenditure, but I don’t think volunteers should be put in a position to deal with unvaccinated patrons

“We will have to pay for security to be on each gate, it is an expense.”

With shows often just breaking even, Mr Shimbel said the extra costs impact the society’s ability to put on ‘our best posible show’.

“Our understanding is you must be vaccinated, and scan the QR code to enter because it is a ticketed event, but it is difficult to find correct information.”

Mr Shimbel said the annual entertainment bill for the show is ‘over $100,000’, which does not include the need to have ‘special duties’ police.

“Because of our liquor licence we must have a set number of special duties police, offduty officers, patrolling the grounds.”

With an average of 12,000 paying patrons at each show, Mr Shimbel said not charging an entry fee was not an option.

“We have asked that question, and it is not clear if that is possible, but we cannot really afford to lose that income.

“The Show Society is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the showgrounds and the buildings, so we need to have the income, this is a real challenge for us to face.”

While he was concerned for the future of the Caboolture Show Society, Mr Shimbel said it is the smaller societies that will be impacted harder by the Covid rules.

To make up for the shortage of volunteer members, Mr Shimbel said many societies enlist the support of community groups.

“In return for their help, for example, we make donations after the show, to thank them for the work they do, it could be parking cars, manning ticket booths, a lot of small but vital jobs.

“So it is not just the show society, but if we take the donations out of the income for the other volunteer groups, the Scouts, the Orchid Society, the Garden Club, and many others, then they struggle to do their activities.”

Describing the Caboolture Show as ‘semi-city and semi-rural’, Mr Shimbel said the show has changed over time.

“The show is a big part of the town’s history, in places like Woodford, their show is the biggest event in town, you cannot take that away from the community.

“Show membership was a generational thing, your grandparents were members, your parents were members, so you became a member, but that is not happening these days.

“The show is when rides come to town, you get your showbags, have a Dagwood Dog, we need to try and preserve that.”

Moreton Bay Regional Council had been ‘very good’ with community grants to the Show Society, Mr Shimbel said, but there were limits to available funds.

“Their pockets aren’t bottomless, so we appreciate the help they give us, but we have to fund our own operations.

Mr Shimbel said the vaccination mandate had also impacted hirers using the showgrounds, with at least one major hire falling through, after the rules were explained to them requiring patrons to check in.

“When they realised the additional work involved, and the cost, they declined, so that is another event that is lost to the community.”


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