Show finds online sweet spot
WE ALL know the saying "the show must go on", and Crows Nest Show organisers decided that is exactly what would happen - even if it had to be virtually.
The aim of the #12DaysofCrowieShow, secretary Jess Hanson said, was to keep the community positive in the face of COVID-19 restrictions and keep the event, which started 1901, alive in some way.
"This is the first time the show has had to be cancelled since the war, so when we made that decision in March we discussed that we still wanted to keep the momentum going and how we could do that," Jess said.
With an eye towards keeping the labour low, they decided to run a 12-event virtual agricultural show through Facebook, with no entry fees so everyone could be involved, and no judging.
They even had local dab hands like veteran vegetable steward Maurice Burgess and Crows Nest AH&I life member and Ekka cookery judge Shirley Cronk film 10-minute tutorials sharing tips on their area of expertise.
Jess said many Crows Nest locals, for example, had great vegetable patches or fruit trees but no idea how to begin showing their produce … until now.
"It was wonderful - capturing the show culture in 2020; involving show identities and recording their knowledge … it's too good not to be recorded," Jess said.
"Shirley's in her 80s and has a lifetime of show cookery tips, hints and hacks; things that older people know from a lifetime of experience, like how to avoid rack marks and skewer marks on a cake."
The online show achieved 374 entries, including local, Queensland-wide and interstate interest.
Jessica said they crossed all age groups, from "children bored at home looking for something to do" to residents at the Churches of Christ Crows Nest Retirement Village.
Diversional therapist Monica Black helped village residents enter a number of categories, including needlework and handicrafts, floriculture, the pet parade, A Day in the High Country and Crows Nest Has Talent.
One of the highlights for Jessica was retirement village entrant Joyce's rendition of Amazing Grace.
"It was just the most beautiful thing to see this elderly lady put herself out there to give other people joy," Jess said.
"Probably the standout of the whole initiative was how it connected the whole community."
Jess feels they may have even tapped into a new audience, those who had felt the local show was outdated and didn't realise its purpose was "to encourage people to get better every year".
And they could introduce a new online element to future shows, so that residents in the aged care village can continue to participate. But while the show is over again until May 8, 2021, the work is far from over for the Crows Nest AH&I Society, with the 6.5ha showgrounds set for a major facelift.
With 70 powered sites, they have received grants to build a new all-abilities ablution block including laundry, upgrade the existing toilet and shower block and paint silo murals to make the area more attractive to caravan clubs, group meetings and other potential money earners.
DID YOU KNOW?
No sector in Australia puts in more volunteer hours than the agricultural show movement, with 1.56 million hours volunteered to run 580 events nationally.