With the state recording new community cases of COVID-19 and the announcement that the South East Queensland lockdown has been extended until Sunday 8th August, the Brisbane Ekka has been cancelled for the second successive year.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles made the announcement this morning as the lockdown of 11 local government areas was extended, advising that cancelling the Ekka would be "sad and disappointing for many, many Queenslanders", adding "(but) we just can't afford to have an event like that where people travel into town, circulate in large numbers. The risk is just too great."
Due to have started this weekend and with bump in already underway, the cancellation of the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) will be a huge blow to all involved with the annual event. Some carnival ride operators and exhibitors are already on site at the RNA Showgrounds and are likely to have to remain in lockdown.
With South East Queensland put in to lockdown on Saturday, the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA) yesterday made the decision to cancel the Stud Beef Cattle Show which had been due to start on Tuesday.
Advising that the health and safety of the Ekka community and the general public was paramount and the RNA was fully supportive of the Queensland Government’s decision, RNA Chief Executive, Brendan Christou stated “it is devastating to have to cancel this year’s historic comeback Ekka but the current outbreak of COVID-19 means we cannot bring the country and city together safely.
“It is particularly heartbreaking to have to cancel so close to our opening day because of the massive effort our Ekka community has put into preparing for this year’s People’s Show.
“Thousands of exhibitors who have spent months preparing their entries for competition will be extremely disappointed they cannot showcase their efforts at the 2021 Show.
“It is especially tough for the farming community who have been eagerly awaiting this year’s Show which is a celebration of all things agriculture.
“The Ekka doesn’t just reward the best of the best it also provides much needed respite and highlights the many challenges they face such as drought and flood.
“Our hearts also go out to the hundreds of businesses whose livelihoods rely on events like the Ekka. The ride operators, the food vendors and the many small businesses who showcase their products at Queensland’s largest marketplace - they are facing another financial blow in the wake of the Show’s cancellation.
“This last minute cancellation of the Show has broad-ranging financial impacts for our not for profit organisation because we also rely on the Ekka to provide a major part of our revenue.
“Despite all the disappointment the cancellation of the Ekka brings the RNA will always act in the best interests of public health and protect our exhibitors and the broader community,” said Mr Christou.
The RNA will now endeavour to see if some of the 2021 Royal Queensland Show competitions can continue these next two weeks in a COVIDSafe environment without the general public.
Christou went on to explain that the RNA will also be working with Queensland Health on a de-mobilisation plan to assist exhibitors with bumping out and what is possible during the lockdown, adding “we will be working through a number of options in the next 24 (to) 48 hours and will provide updates to our exhibitors and competitors.”
Before last year, the Ekka had previously only been cancelled twice in its 145-year history due to the pandemic.
The Ekka was due to run from Saturday 7th to Sunday 15th August.
The RNA will be issuing full refunds to all ticketholders.
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