"It's a good luck story for us".
These words were uttered by Gunnedah Show Society's Rob Witts following Thursday's announcement of millions in funding to help show societies get back on their feet.
The federal government launched a $36 million Supporting Agricultural Shows program to offer $10 million in operational support for local show societies; $26 million in operational support for Royal Agricultural Show societies; and $100,000 in operational support for Agricultural Shows Australia's Rural ambassador program.
"This announcement ... is a good luck story for us. It's really going to help us because we've got ongoing expenses throughout the year and we haven't had the opportunity to make an income to cover them," Mr Witts said.
"Not that we're going to end up with a lot of cash in the bank after this. We've already got bills."
The show society's had a bumpy ride this year, and in February, feared the 2020 show might not go ahead because of financial difficulties. A show of support and government funding turned things around until COVID-19 put a stop to it all.
But now things are looking up.
The new funding for local show societies is based on attendance numbers at last year's shows, and Mr Witts said Gunnedah would likely fall into the second bracket, meaning the society can potentially claim up to $15,000.
However, members have "got to do some numbers" first.
Eligible reimbursement costs may include state/national show body affiliation fees, utilities, rent, bank fees, rates, insurance, fire alarms and equipment, cleaning supplies, telecommunications, IT system licencing costs and website costs.
All agricultural shows cancelled this year because of COVID-19 will be eligible and societies will not have to compete for assistance.
It's really going to help us because we've got ongoing expenses throughout the year.Rob Witts, Gunnedah Show Society president
While the money doesn't go to the show society, it will benefit from the works.
"It all helps. It makes the facilities good for people to use," Mr Witts said.
"If the facilities are upgraded, it may attract other events onto the showground and that's a snowballing thing - you get more events, you attract more funding. And that's better for our community because you get more people coming into town."
The show society is hopeful it can still run the annual show jumping competition, which is usually held in July. The plan is to push it back to the first weekend in September, all going well.
"We'll give it a go ... people are busting to do things for starters and hopefully it will be successful so we can get an income and get things going again," Mr Witts said.
The society is also preparing for the 2021 Gunnedah Show, seeking sponsorship for the community event, which had to be cancelled this year.
More than $700,000 was allocated to develop the equine aspect of the showground, and more than $800,000 was allocated to upgrade the grounds, grandstand and Gunnedah Kennel Club amenities block.
The first project is a new custom-designed soft-fall/rodeo ring, permanent cattle yards, new public address system and new power poles and lighting towers with adjustable lights to increase lighting during night events.
The second project will include installation of arena lighting to facilitate larger night events and the installation of an accessible toilet/shower block to accommodate current and future usage. Funding will also cover the construction of six shaded, picnic shelters and the replacement of grandstand seating with portable, accessible and tiered grandstand seating.