The bright side of Ekka cancellation
FOR just the third time in almost 150 years the Royal Queensland Show won't go on, but Ekka Wednesday on August 12 will still be a public holiday.
In a historic move made inevitable by the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, the RNA has pulled the pin on the 2020 Ekka, which would have opened its gates four months from today.
The move means hundreds of events will be called off.
But organisers have kept the window open for some events to be streamed online and others to go ahead without crowds in a bid to keep the city-country connection alive.
It comes as Queensland Health looks to transform parts of the Royal International Convention Centre in Bowen Hills into a makeshift hospital if the state's coronavirus outbreak worsens.
The Ekka, which has been running for 143 years, has been cancelled only twice previously, once during the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic and then during World War II.
RNA chief executive Brendan Christou said the decision, previously slated to be made in June, was brought forward to give farmers and exhibitors certainty.
"The health and wellbeing of the people of Queensland come before the Ekka," Mr Christou said. "Obviously due to the COVID-19 pandemic that we are all facing, it is not possible for the Ekka to go ahead this year."
But Mr Christou flagged efforts to take parts of the Ekka online in a bid to keep families stuck at home engaged with the show.
"Our focus now will be on creating innovative ways to connect the city and country through digital means of course," he said.
"We think it's really important that we continue to provide that connection."
"Some of our competitions may be able to continue - they don't break any social distancing requirements. That is things like our feed lot competitions and … carcass competitions."
Willow Scotson was already practising for this Ekka when her family heard the show had been cancelled.
The Gold Coast Ekka-winning rider who turns eight just before the show was due to start, would have notched up her fifth year of competition at this years Ekka.
It would also have been the first year she could have competed without having someone lead her. Mum Sarah says both she and her daughter were sad to hear the news.
"Willow was a bit shocked. She understands why but she is just sad," she said.
Originally published as The bright side of Ekka cancellation