Launceston Show public holiday potentially transferred to Agfest

A northern councillor is calling for the Royal Launceston Show day public holiday to be changed to the Friday of Agfest. 

Meander Valley councillor Bob Richardson will put forward a notice of motion at the council’s Tuesday meeting asking for the change. 

“Significant doubt is currently cast upon regional shows. Devonport Show has been cancelled for 2017 and Launceston Show was reported to have just 9000 attendees,” Cr Richardson wrote in the council agenda. 

“Agfest has grown to be a statewide event, with significant attendances. It is now clearly the state’s premier agricultural event.”  

The north has four public holidays between October and January. 

Cr Richardson said changing the date would help spread those public holidays out and could distribute the crowds more evenly across the three-day agricultural event. 

“In terms of public holidays, things get pretty thin following Easter and Anzac Day. A May public holiday would probably be appreciated by many,” he said.  

“The move would recognise the shift in community values [and] retain an agricultural focus for the public holiday.”

If the councillors agree to support the motion, they will write to Building and Construction Minister Rene Hidding to get advice on the process of amending the Statutory Holidays Act, and write to other northern councils to get their opinion.

If other councils are interested, they would then work collaboratively to make the change official, the agenda said.

Meander Valley mayor Craig Perkins said if the date change was to go ahead, the state’s north would have to support it. 

“If you are making the change, it is probably important that it is for the whole of Northern Tasmania and not just the municipality. Writing to [other councils] is the first step. You don’t know if you don’t ask,” Cr Perkins said. 

“I’d be keen to know what the rest of the region thinks on it.”

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Cr Perkins said the Launceston Show was an “institution” in the state, and the society’s opinion should be heard too. 

“If the Launceston Show was to potentially fold, it would seem like a logical replacement in terms of allowing people to go to Agfest to get that same rural experience,” he said.  

The Royal Launceston Show society said this year’s attendance was not enough and would decide if the show should continue by December.

Meander Valley Council’s general manager Martin Gill said it was “an initiative worth exploring”. 

“[Agfest] has become and important social, cultural and political networking event. A public holiday linked to Agfest could support continued growth,” Mr Gill said. 

Agfest is held within the Meander Valley, at Carrick. Previous events have attracted 80,000 people.