Ballarat Show Day will be retained as our November public holiday.
However, the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society has urged Commerce Ballarat to work with them to draw metropolitan visitors to the town on Melbourne Cup Day.
Ballarat City Council voted unanimously at its Wednesday night meeting to keep Show Day as the day off, instead of Melbourne Cup Day.
Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society (BAPS) president Kerri Gallagher told the meeting the group would lose revenue if Show Day was no longer a public holiday after years of trying to rebuild the event.
“If our show becomes a smaller event, and loses a lot of revenue, we will lose a lot of what we’ve worked so hard to build,” Ms Gallagher said.
BAPS showgrounds committee president Michael Daunt said a proposal to move to Victoria Park would also be “questionable”, and their revenue would be “very tight” if they lost Show Day.
“As a solution, I believe there is a huge opportunity to attract visitors on Melbourne Cup Day,” Mr Daunt said.
“It would be good for Ballarat and good for commerce.”
Ballarat Show horse committee president Kelly Jones said the council needed to support a family event.
“This is not a ‘my way or the highway’ view - we all need to work together,” Ms Jones said.
Councillor Des Hudson said he was conscious of Commerce Ballarat’s frustration at the public holidays not being aligned.
“But for me, I’ve had to take into effect the cumulative harm and the ripple effect of tonight’s decision,” Cr Hudson said.
“The inability to trade on Show Day is spread across business but the impact is lesser than on the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society if the holiday is taken away from Show Day.”
Cr Grant Tillett said he first remembered the show back in 1952 when it had a full-sized trotting track and a full-sized arena.
He said the show society had done a “magnificent job” with the reduction in its facilities and the land available to them.
“They have admitted defeat on that site and are set on obtaining a new site,” Cr Tillett said. “It would be unconscionable of me to support anything other than Show Day during that transition period.”
Cr Jim Rinaldi said he was worried it may have been the end of a 150-year organisation if Show Day was removed.
Mayor Samantha McIntosh said the council supported its rural and regional partners.
“We have a responsibility as a council to work with the agricultural society and Commerce Ballarat to do the best we can over Melbourne Cup Day,” Cr McIntosh said.