Melbourne Royal Show chief executive Brad Jenkins says the 2022 event has been “one of the biggest years” for attendance, which was capped at 50,000 visitors a day for the first time.
At least five days have capped and the show expects about 480,000 to have come through the gates over the 11 days.
“We had nearly 50,000 visitors every day, which was great,” Jenkins said, expecting 40,000 to 45,000 attendees on Sunday when the event wraps up.
At least 170,000 children between the ages of 8 and 14 attended the show for free after the state government supported their participation. Jenkins said the initiative is a “huge success” and will lead to discussions with the government on whether to continue next year.
But this year’s show wasn’t without its challenges, including traffic congestion and calls for free public transport. A rollercoaster tragedy that left 26-year-old Shylah Rodden in critical condition cast a shadow over the event.
“We never want these kinds of accidents and they shouldn’t happen,” Jenkins said. “It puts a great damper on the mood…it takes its toll.”
Regulars and some farmers have also noticed a drop in the overall number of participants in competitions this year, saying rising costs, limited space and impractical data are turning farmers away.
Jenkins, who stresses that some entries like horses have reached record highs, attributes the low numbers at other events to a loss of confidence due to two years of show cancellations and foot-and-mouth disease.
“We will work with the exhibitors, the show is all about celebrating agriculture,” he said.
Surkitt, noting a drop in attendance at baking and canning events, said that for some who didn’t attend this year, their enthusiasm has returned after attending the show.
“One of them says, ‘Yeah, I’m back, I’m stepping in,'” she said. “You got the ride back.”
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