17 May 2024

Date change flagged after soggy 2024 Riverina Field Days incurs $100,000 loss

| Oliver Jacques
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Mum and baby in rain

Heavy rain at Riverina Field Days saw the second day called off. Photo: Griffith Showground.

The organiser of Griffith’s annual autumn agricultural show Riverina Field Days is considering changing the date for future events, after last weekend’s washout resulted in a near $100,000 loss.

The event was held last Friday and Saturday (10-11 May), the only two days this month that have suffered heavy rain, resulting in it being called off on the Saturday morning.

“We were confident our decision was the right call, as by the end of Saturday the site had received 63 mm of rain,” organiser Jason Torresan said.

“Some areas of the site were holding more than 200 mm of water due to stormwater runoff.”

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The cancellation came after months of meticulous planning, involving significant investments in logistics, advertising, labour and infrastructure.

Mr Torresan revealed the estimated loss was close to $100,000. Around half of that amount was allocated to entertainment and attractions that could not be utilised due to the cancellation.

Additionally, he noted there could be a repair bill of close to $25,000 to restore the water-logged grounds at the Griffith Showground.

On Tuesday (13 May), he told Triple M Radio that he’s considering moving the event from its traditional scheduling in May.

“When Mother Nature makes a call, nothing can stop it,” he said. “It seems there’s always rain on that weekend; we may consider a date change, that’s on the table. We may even consider changing it to a Saturday and Sunday instead of a Friday and Saturday.”

girl with umbrella

Organisers of Riverina Field Days are considering a date change. Photo: Griffith Showground.

Long-term climate data for Griffith suggests Mr Torresan has been very unlucky, as May is not generally a particularly wet month for the town. Average rainfall is higher in the months of March, October and November.

The Coro Club manager has been the organiser of the past three events, two of which have been disrupted by heavy rain. In 2022, the field days were hit by an unexpected La Nina event.

“We learnt from that event and put additional safety procedures into practice this year,” he noted.

However, despite the preparations, organisers were once again caught off guard by the continuation of rain, underscoring the unpredictable nature of weather patterns.

“Over 50 mm of rain fell from Friday to Saturday morning, covering the grounds and posing a safety hazard.”

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He thanked those who helped out in difficult circumstances.

“Our staff have been working tirelessly to facilitate the safe and efficient removal of exhibitors’ equipment from the event grounds” he said.

“We’d [also] like to thank our gate volunteers from the Griffith Lions Club, Griffith City Football Club, and Griffith East Public School School Band Fundraising Committee for their tireless commitment amidst testing conditions.”

Mr Torresan remained optimistic about the future of the Riverina Field Days, stating that the resilience demonstrated by organisers and attendees alike served as a testament to the event’s enduring spirit.

“Organisers will ensure that any exhibitor who attended the Riverina Field Days this year and returns next year, will be looked after as this cancelled event was beyond our control,” he said.

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