How Bendigo became king of shows

10 Jul, 2014 06:00 PM
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Stock & Land, July 31, 1935.
Stock & Land, July 31, 1935.

A RIBBON at the Australian Sheep & Wool show in July supersedes all others.

But building up the Bendigo event to the pinnacle it is today was no mean feat, and Andrew Ternouth took the reins as secretary of the Australian Sheep Breeders Association (ASBA) and began the uphill battle, along with president Mark Gubbins, to rebuild its value.

"The goal was to pick the event up off the floor because sponsorship was declining," Mr Ternouth said.

"We had to sort of pull it up by the boot laces and make it profitable."

"Back then we had 1000 sheep entries – now there are 2500-plus exhibits."

A jack of all trades in the agricultural industry, Mr Ternouth had worked in a plethora of industries, including animal research, poultry farming, shearer training and rural leadership.

A meeting was held in Bendigo to float the idea of a move early in 2000 – just months before the show.

"It took a bit of courage for Mr Gubbins to say 'Ok, let's go', but he did and the decision was made," Mr Ternouth said.

"That first year I had the executive meeting in my kitchen, and we were putting tickets in envelopes for stewards and entrants for days."

Factors such as easier access and accommodation in Bendigo saw the event gain momentum, but the local community weren't initially pleased with hosting the event.

"When we started we were seen as being outsiders to Bendigo," Mr Ternouth said.

"So as much as possible we tried to employ locals from printers to electricians and caterers.

"So I was pretty proud that by 2013 we had a large number of locals involved."

However, the major battle was still to ensue, which involved getting funding for a bigger and better shed to house the burgeoning number of competitors and displays.

Following the first battle for a new space, which culminated in the Bendigo Exhibition Centre being built, the Committee started campaigning for a second shed.

The process took nearly five years, and this year the Regional Exhibition Centre will be officially opened.

Eventually a $2 million grant was secured from the State Government while the ASBA also contributed $660,000 and City of Greater Bendigo $250,000 to funding of the 6150-square meter shed.

While the original plan to get the whole show under roof was rendered unaffordable, the first use of the shed at the 2012 Show was hailed a great improvement and marked a growth point of the show.

Sheep from all States of Australia now flock to the event to vie for the prestige of winning against National competition.

Since moving to Bendigo, the show business has grown by 10 per cent each year, flourishing with support from near and far, Mr Termouth said.

"It goes to show you need to have media to help promote an event.

"Stock & Land has been the glue that's helped hold it together.

"Without the support and simbiotic relationship, a lot of this wouldn't have been possible"

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Dannika Bonser

Dannika Bonser

is a journalist for Stock & Land

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Sorry did i get it wrong..? Rankins Springs is still open..?!
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No doubt a few frosted Freddies out there who will wish they had taken a closer look at the AGC
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Matthew, I was wondering if you had followed up this story with the farmer after the whole