The 2021 Royal Canberra Show has been added to the growing list of COVID-19 cancellations, in the first time the event has been cancelled in over 70 years.
The disappointing announcement was made at the Royal National Capital Agricultural Society’s annual meeting on 26 November, as the financial position of the organisation remains bleak.
Chief Executive Geoff Cannock said the Show’s running schedule has been in deliberation for the past three months.
“We usually start planning the Show straight after the last but we were the only Royal Show to be staged this year; we just made it because it was the last weekend in February,” he said.
“The difficulty we are going to have now is once the next Show comes around, we will have no staff – once JobKeeper ends.
“We don’t have funds to pay staff until we get a cashflow, which won’t be toward the end of the year with our horse and wine shows.”
The ACT Government’s latest COVID-19 restrictions state no events of more than 5,000 people can go ahead, putting the event’s usual crowd of 50,000 spectators and 25,000 competitors off the table.
The last time the Canberra Show was cancelled was in 1943 during Word War II.
Mr Cannock said the Show was also aware of the impact the cancellation would have on the 500 businesses that trade at the event.
“There will definitely be some fallout and we will lose some sponsors, but some people will come back,” he said.
“That’s because people promote their business from the Show, and a lot of them will do what other retailers have had to do during this time and go on the internet.
“For a lot of our businesses, this is their biggest show at the start of the year, and they are just bitterly disappointed.”
Mr Cannock said the Society needed the community’s moral support during this time and when they return in 2022.