Showground plan to stage sideshow

By BELINDA SCOTT

COFFS Harbour may not have its 2008 Show, but it will still have its sideshows next month.

Coffs Harbour Showground Trust administrator Kate Young told Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce yesterday that the Showmen's Guild had approached the Trust to have entertainment on the booked Show days.

She said there was also room for a limited number of spaces for other displays.

The Secretary of the Showmen's Guild, John Davis, said yesterday the Guild had hired the top end of the Showground for April 25 and 26.

"We will have an enormous amount of rides- the area is already overbooked," Mr Davis said.

"We will have Speed, which is 30 metres high and goes at 130km an hour and a brand new one which is in Sydney now a two-storey high ghost train."

Mr Davis said they had hired the highway pavilion which would have space available free for displays by local firms or people, but not for itinerant exhibitors.

He said the showmen were very disappointed the 2008 Coffs Harbour Show would not take place and this year's sideshow event, which they have dubbed the Coffs Harbour Super Show, was 'a one-off thing' and they hoped the Coffs Harbour Agricultural Show would be back again next year.

Interested people can contact John Davis on 07-38070011 or Showground Trust business development manager Chris Stretton at Coffs Harbour Showground.

Kate Young, who was the guest speaker at the March Chamber of Commerce breakfast yesterday, said it was disappointing that the Show Society had decided not to proceed with the 2008 Coffs Harbour Show, which she was sure would have been a tremendous success, with volunteers 'coming out of the woodwork.'

She said the Show Society alone had decided to abandon the 2008 Show, citing a lack of volunteers, a downward trend in attendances and financial reasons.

The Show Society has blamed four months of failure to resolve a disagreement over a disputed $20,900 bill for office services.

Kate Young said there was an arrangement dating back to 1999 for the Show Society to pay $1000 a month for office services, mainly for wages, which had continued until July 2006, when the Trust raised the matter.

She said the Show Society had failed to notify the Trust they did not wish to continue the arrangement.

At yesterday's Chamber breakfast, she hit out at media reports of the Trust administrator's and Lands Department's involvement with the Showground, saying they were here for the long term and committed to community usage.

She blamed these 'inaccurate' media stories for some community groups withdrawing from the Showground, saying it was false to report that Lands was not committed to ongoing community use and had plans to sell the Showground.

She said they were responding to the needs of user groups and providing better service and it was 'unfortunate' that information provided by the Trust had been received by the media.

The Trust administrator outlined measures taken so far and future plans to improve the appearance and performance of the Showground, particularly the Coffs Harbour Tourist Park caravan park, now renamed the Harbour City Holiday Park.

She said the caravan park had not enjoyed the same growth as private caravan parks in the area and had lost market share in 2005-06.

She said in the past 10 years at the Showground income had risen by 39 per cent but expenditure by 126 per cent and the user-pays system now in place was similar to that used by local councils.



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