THIS year’s Morisset Lake Macquarie District Agricultural Show will long be remembered – and not entirely for all the right reasons.
The biggest talking point from the weekend was the rodeo and the show’s first night program, launched on Saturday.
While searing temperatures kept crowds well down during the day, the Saturday night program attracted a bumper crowd of close to 4000.
Show committee president Justin Rumore said it was heartening to see families enjoying the showground entertainment on the night.
“We had people lining up for 15 and 20 minutes to go on some of the rides,” he said.
Some of the food and beverage providers sold out of stock on Saturday night.
But not everybody was impressed.
Animal liberation activists protested at the entrance to the showground as patrons arrived to see the rodeo.
They waved signs alleging the rodeo amounted to animal cruelty. They called on the show to be shut down in order to prevent the livestock from suffering heat stress.
The protesters also clashed with show patrons, and police were called.
Mr Rumore said the program of equestrian events was rescheduled to early morning to minimise the participants’ exposure to the heat, while many of the livestock events – including for goats and dogs – were cancelled.
“We did everything in our power to make sure of the safety of livestock and people at the show,” Mr Rumore said.
“We made sure they were well watered, well fed, and kept in the shade.”
In an effort to provide show patrons with relief from the heat, water misting tents were set up over the weekend, he said.
To cap off an eventful night, the fireworks scheduled for after the rodeo were cancelled on the order of local authorities.
Mr Rumore said a subsequent check of regulations and the protocols surrounding the fireworks suggested that the event should have proceeded, as planned.
Regardless, Mr Rumore said the community appreciated the new format of the show, with the night program.
The show committee was already talking about the staging of next year’s event, he said.