RIDING ON RODEO: Confidence grows to save tourism event
IN A Southern Downs events calendar decimated by coronavirus, one Warwick powerhouse is cautiously and optimistically forging ahead.
Following the recent relaxation on outdoor event numbers, Warwick Show and Rodeo Society president Gerard O'Leary said planning was continuing "as normal".
The October event brings in an estimated $5-6 million a year to the region, according to Mr O'Leary, and cancelling wasn't an option to take lightly.
"That's what we're worried about," he said.
"Not only is it a great social event, but also an economic one and if we don't have it, business will suffer.
"Ten days over the week where people shop and stay locally - we're very aware of it."
For accommodation providers like Terry Butler of DJ's Caravan Park, without Jumpers and Jazz, the Warwick Rodeo's survival was a paramount concern for his business.
"We lost 50 per cent of what we usually take in July without Jumpers and Jazz," he said.
"That October weekend is certainly an important one to us."
While Mr O'Leary said, to a certain degree, going ahead was out of the society's hands, he was choosing to remain "confident."
"It depends how long a piece of string is," he said.
"We're doing everything in our power to keep the rodeo and campdraft but we can't do much.
"We have done all our research on it and I'm hopeful this year will be the same as past years.
"The one thing I will say is if we go ahead with the Rodeo and Campdraft it will be the biggest ever because it's the first off the rank."
The news follows a closed SDRC meeting on Tuesday, in which The Warwick Show and Rodeo Society made a draft budget submission to Southern Downs Regional Council.
According to Show and Rodeo's events and marketing co-ordinator Teilah McKelvey, the proposal involved a plan to "work collaboratively with council for the betterment of our events".
The 2020/21 draft budget sets aside $10,000 for Warwick Rodeo.
Mr Butler believed the onus was now on council to help major drawcards like Rodeo into recovery.
"Certainly after a situation like now," he said.
"I'm thinking they need to put something into it to get it back up and going and more advertising to make sure they're not forgotten," he said. "If either of those two groups (Jumpers and Jazz and Warwick Show and Rodeo) needed support, they should certainly be able to go to council and get some."
A council spokeswoman said the submission was under review. "Council is committed to continuing its strong working partnership with the society and is keen to engage … to assist them as best we can," she said.