FOUR of the region's show societies have received a major funding boost, courtesy of the state government.
The Manilla, Barraba, Walcha and Gunnedah show societies will share in more than $327,000 of the funding, which will go towards a variety of infrastructure developments.
Walcha was the big winner, netting $185,602 for repairs and upgrades, while Gunnedah was granted $94,369 to install compliant side railings and a balustrade in the main grandstand, upgrade the kitchen, and install six whirly birds in Griffiths Hall, install external lights and demolish the existing stables.
Meanwhile, Manilla claimed $38,434 to replace its stable block and Barraba received $9,300 for plumbing works.
For Manilla, the funds come less than a month after the society received $122,755 from the federal government for renovations.
Society secretary Lou Ellen Overton said the upgrades would benefit the entire Manilla community.
"We've been very fortunate, of late, to get quite a bit of funding firstly from the state government for our new sheep yards and the federal government for the grandstands," Ms Overton said.
"Following on from that, we have been very lucky to receive some grant funding, again via the state government, for the upgrade of the stable block.
"Our showground, particularly the grandstand, was in need of a facelift and due to the council knocking down the old grandstand, we're not sure where we might have been without this funding.
"The grounds are used by a variety of different community groups, including the pony club, and I understand a lot of the work will be carried out by local contractors, so it really is a win for the community as a whole."
Gunnedah Show Society president Rob Witts said the upgrades to the Gunnedah Showgrounds would also have wide-ranging benefits.
"One thing that I don't think a lot of people realise is that last year we had about 80,000 people come through the Gunnedah Showgrounds for various events," Mr Witts said.
"Whether it's for the show, other major events or smaller weekly events, the facility gets a lot of use and is in need of a serious makeover.
"Given we missed out on hosting this year's show due to coronavirus, we are hoping this funding will have us back bigger and better next year."
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said supporting the region's showgrounds was crucial to helping kickstart the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Showgrounds are at the heart of communities, including serving as sports facilities, community meeting places and in some cases evacuation centres during bushfires and floods, so we want to keep them in good shape," Mr Anderson said.
"When COVID-19 hit, it forced the postponement or cancellation of agricultural shows and many activities that showgrounds rely on for their income.
"This investment will boost for our local showgrounds and the communities they serve by supporting tradies and suppliers with work and strengthening showground infrastructure for the future."