The Gloucester Show may have been cancelled for the second year in a row but activity at the Gloucester Showground hasn't, with more government funding secured to help upgrade the facilities.
Gloucester was on the list of three showgrounds in the Upper Hunter electorate to share in $827,690 from the latest round of the NSW Government's COVID-19 showground stimulus program.
The funding will enable the Gloucester AH and P Association to take another giant step forward in its plans to expand the scope of what the showground can provide for the community.
In 2018, the association set up a 'showground improvement team' comprised of representatives of the venue's user groups, to help brainstorm ideas for updating the grounds.
Since then the association has secured funding for things like upgrading fencing, making improvements to existing buildings, constructing new amenities and completing works on the main arena.
According to project coordinator Bob Tebbet, the committee is keen to develop the showground and build on the legacy left by the founders of the association and the heritage of the traditional Australian agricultural show.
This latest $570,568 of funding will go toward constructing a new multi-function exhibition centre, tiered covered seating, the installation of a public address and communication system, and tree planting.
The biggest part of the works - the new exhibition centre - will see the current bar and office buildings replaced with a single facility.
The centre will include an administration office, bar, canteen, function room and a covered viewing area. It is also planned to provide an exhibition room/display area for archives, honour boards and artefacts.
Treasurer Bruce Snape said the final design and costings for this part of the project are currently being prepared to ensure that the scope of works proposed fits within the available grant funding.
"Once the planning has been finalised the relevant approvals will be sought prior to the tendering and construction phase," Bruce said.
Construction is unlikely to be undertaken prior to the 2022 annual show.
Member for Upper Hunter, David Layzell said this latest allocation of COVID-19 showground stimulus funding is part of $16.7 million being distributed statewide.
"Local showgrounds are multi-use facilities used for a variety of activities such as agricultural shows, rodeos and pony club, markets, festivals, men's sheds, sport and recreation, and caravanning and camping," Mr Layzell said.
"During bushfires and floods, many also serve as emergency centres for residents, animals, firefighters and other support services, so we want them in good shape."
The other two showgrounds in the Upper Hunter to receive funding were Muswellbrook and Quirindi.
Muswellbrook Showground has been given $182,872 for an electrical upgrade to its campsites, amenities block and rodeo arena, and to add amenities facilities to its office demountable. Quirindi Showground's $74,250 will go toward constructing a new pedestrian and spectator entrance, and to refurbish the ticket box.
"Whether its weekend pony club, a day at our local shows or a night at the rodeo, it is showgrounds that form the social centrepiece of our regional towns," Mr Layzell said.