WITH many regional shows falling by the wayside in 2020, due to drought and coronavirus (COVID-19), it's been a tough year for the agricultural sector.
Firstly, the Upper Hunter Show was cancelled in March, while the Merriwa PAH and I Association Inc recently abandoned plans to host the popular Merriwa Springtime Show, slated for September.
But, despite those setbacks, the Upper Hunter Show Inc received some good news during the week in the form of a financial windfall.
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen announced the hard-working organisation would secure $55,000 as part of a NSW Government COVID-19 stimulus package.
He said Muswellbrook Showground had been approved for upgraded work to improve the safety, use and condition of its infrastructure and support jobs in the local economy.
"When COVID-19 hit, it forced the postponement or cancellation of agricultural shows throughout the state and many activities that showgrounds rely on for their income," he explained.
"The Muswellbrook Showground - and Upper Hunter Show - plays an important role at the heart of our community, so I welcome this further investment by the NSW Government.
"It will provide a boost for our local association, while offering tradies and suppliers with work.
"Showgrounds are community hubs and multi-use facilities.
"And, these projects will improve safety and enhance community enjoyment by providing upgraded facilities to support a range of uses."
Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the Muswellbrook Showground was among 153 across NSW to secure stimulus funding this financial year.
"This program is generating much activity in local economies impacted by COVID-19 while backing the long-term sustainability of showgrounds," she added.
The NSW Government has allocated a further $10.77 million to its showground stimulus program, bringing the total to $35.77 million across the state.
All up, $23.27 million is being apportioned this financial year to support the upgrades and a further $12.5 million will be spent in 2021-22.
These works will help maintain the momentum on NSW efforts to lead the nation's economic recovery from COVID-19.