An event with “wow factor” was promised by the organisers of the 2019 Newcastle Regional Show at its launch on Wednesday. A helicopter, horses and a surprise visit from Santa Claus, however, did not distract from the seriousness of the task the embattled show committee has ahead.
“We’ve had a meeting with the minister and and he’s told us if you can show me it is viable for you to run this, then you can run this,” Peter Evans, president of the show’s board said.
“On behalf of the board, we want the NSW government to know that we believe in the show and the Newcastle showground.
“We encourage them to accept our offer and empower us to keep this event and the site a desired entertainment destination for the local community.”
Mr Evans said he met with the Minister of Sport Stuart Ayres in late September after Mr Ayres’ confirmed he was “considering” moving the event from Newcastle’s historic showground during a budget estimates hearing.
Mr Evans went public in August with concerns that the government was planning to fund the redevelopment of the Broadmeadow sport precinct by selling much of the showground site for housing.
On Wednesday the show president said he was “very confident” that would not be the fate of the iconic venue.
“If we can show a viable use for it [the Showground] and it works, they’ll walk away from that plan.
“We’re not going to walk away from this place,” he said. “We will never leave.”
The committee is putting together a proposal to submit to the minister in the “early new year”.
“We’re looking at using it [the showground] 365 days, seven days a week, to produce income,” Mr Evans said.
Board members have previously commented on the constraints they’ve faced leasing the ground and its buildings for other uses since Venues NSW became trustee of the site.
Mr Evans said he was hoping the title for the showground would be transferred to the show association, known as the Newcastle Agricultural, Horticultural and Industrial Association, in the future to act as trustee.
“We’ve never had the title in our name,” he said.
On Wednesday the board president promised the 2019 show would be “bigger and better than ever.”
“We are excited to bring something fresh while honouring the show’s heritage,” Mr Evans said.
A naming rights sponsorship from Regional Australia Bank, worth $22,000, was announced at the launch, as well as donations amounting to $60,000 from the board’s members, and further sponsorship deals with other local businesses.
An additional rodeo event, called barrel racing, will grace the show’s program in 2019 and a new junior Indigenous art prize was also announced.
Discounted family tickets can be purchased from ticketek before December 31.
The show is on at Newcastle Showground from March 1 to 3.