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Numbers dip at Royal Canberra Show

Numbers dip at Royal Canberra Show
February 26, 2012

The 2012 Royal Canberra Show, which finishes today, recorded a small drop in crowd numbers over Friday and Saturday compared with 2011.

Royal National Capital Agricultural Society (RNCAS) Chief Executive Garry Ashby said nearly 80,000 paid admissions over the first two days was still a good result, telling local newspaper The Canberra Times "we're down about 5% across the board, which is pretty good for the economic climate."

Ashby said he hoped yesterday's admissions, which are still being tallied, would add another 20,000 to bring the total gate figure up to the 100,000 predicted to visit Exhibition Park over the three days.

While the show celebrated International Year of the Farmer, with extensive displays of rural life, The Canberra Times has focussed its attention on veteran truck driver William Shakespeare has made his mark in an arena of a different kind.

The 60-year-old spends his days on the road transporting rides to country shows for Queanbeyan-based Bell's Amusement Hire.

Shakespeare, 'Shakey' to his friends in the Showmen's Guild, has travelled the regional show route for 40 years and believes enthusiasm for country shows is as strong as ever.

Speaking about this year's Royal Canberra Show, 'Shakey' told The Canberra Times "there's been a wonderful turnout - a lot of people have been in, they've been through the show, the only difference is that some don't have as much spare change once they do come in."

'Shakey' reckoned that the revamped fireworks display, the extreme motor sports show, and the spectacle of a 1355 kilogram friesian bullock had helped draw the crowds this year, adding "it's been great to see people's smiling faces. If people are smiling, it's a happy show and that's been really noticeable."

It took more than 1,200 volunteers to put together this year's show, which Garry Ashby said had been one of the Agricultural Society's most successful in terms if its organisation. Planning is already beginning for next year's show, which will form part of Canberra's centenary celebrations.

Ashby concluded "the show's been around almost as long as Canberra itself.

"We have some significant plans in the way of entertainment to reflect some of the changes that have happened in Canberra."

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