A Nationals pre-election promise to aid refurbishment of ageing agricultural showground infrastructure across Australia has come to fruition with 33 NSW show societies gaining $4.016 million of a national $20 million pie for 122 shows.
The funding has been delivered through the Regional Agricultural Shows Development Grants program.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the grants would also serve as a much-needed cash injection for the regional and rural showgrounds in the wake of recent bushfires and the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ageing infrastructure plus futuristic electronic IT have been included with grants from as little as $26,000 for new seating at Wentworth showgrounds to $500,000 for refurbishment and expansion of the horse and cattle complex, poultry pavilion, fencing of arena and pavilion facilities, and water upgrade at Coonamble showgrounds.
Twenty show societies gained $100,000 and more with the Hunter River Agricultural and Horticultural Association Ltd, securing the next highest of $255,859 for construction of a new amenities building, electrical upgrade, road-surfacing and guttering at Maitland showground.
Agricultural Societies Council of NSW (ASC) gained $393,000 for a new AgShow audience experience at competitions taking participants from passive observers to being engaged, active learners.
ASC President Tim Capp, said the focus was to attract and engage those show-goers who otherwise would have continued straight past the agricultural competitions. "Maybe someone not from a farming family or someone whose school does not offer agriculture," he said.
The aim of the technology is to keep Agshows relevant, provide an educational platform and offer a form of competition outside the ring that otherwise may not be available to the showgoer.
"We will start small in a test environment using the Young Judges competitions with the plan to make the technology available for all ag shows in the future," Mr Capp said.
Among smaller grants, Kangaroo Valley A&H Association received $32,000 for weather-proofing its grandstand seating and Kiama Show Society, also got $32,000.