Planning and Managing Your Show
for Victorian Agricultural Show Societies
This Planning Guide has been produced as a joint activity of the Department of Primary Industries and the Victorian Agricultural Societies Association Inc.The Guide aims to provide Agricultural Show Societies with a reference that will assist them in developing, staging and reviewing the activity of their Show.
In developing the Guide every attempt has been made to identify the problems faced by Show Societies and the factors that have contributed to the success of Show Societies and particular Shows.
The knowledge accrued within Show Societies needs to be shared and transferred from Society to Society and from generation to generation.
Many lessons have been identified and are contained within the Guide. Some of these lessons will only be applicable to the larger better-resourced Societies, others will be applicable to all.
The important factor is planning. It is without question that the major activity of the Show Society is to plan the program and activities of the Show and to manage the allocation of tasks and the implementation of the plan.The development of a budget associated with this plan is also critical. The Society needs to determine both its total costs in conducting the Show and the revenue that it requires from its activities to ensure its continuity in the future.
The Planning Guide has been developed after researching and writing three (3) Case Studies of successful Show Societies.These Case Studies attempt to capture and relate the experience of:
- Nhill A&P Society Inc.;
- Whittlesea Agricultural Society Inc.; and,
- Wonthaggi & District Agricultural Pastoral & Historical Society Inc.
and contain details of methods,actions and innovations introduced by these Societies.The Case Studies are included at the end of the document.
The strength of these three (3) Societies comes from the lead provided by their Executive and Councils.The support provided to the Councils and Executives by remunerated Society Secretaries is also seen to be important, as is their ability to continue to generate support from their respective communities.
The importance of introducing new people and ideas to the Society network should be kept uppermost in our minds. This combined with the development and training of these new members will provide a co-operative environment within which differing generations can co-exist.
This inter-relationship will enable the Society to:
- Know its market.
- Build community support.
- Introduce new activities and attractions.
- Retain links with the past.
- Review the success of the Show.
- Maintain and upgrade the Show facility.
In discussing the development of this Planning Guide some of the Show Societies involved have expressed concern about their future. This concern generally revolved around the finances of the Society, the ability of the Show to generate profits and the necessity to maintain and grow community support.
Profit is not a dirty word. If a Show Society and its Show are to survive into the future a Society must budget to make a real profit. This profit will not only be required to meet the costs directly associated with the conduct of the Show but also the overhead costs. These will include the cost of maintenance and repair, capital replacement (e.g., buildings etc.) and administration costs incurred during the course of the year.
Societies when establishing their prices for admission, site hire and other revenue raising activities, or when developing their capital and site maintenance plans and budget, must give due recognition to their total cost structure. It is not just important, it is CRITICAL for the long-term survival of the Show that the revenue targets of the Society meet ALL costs and make a profit to enable the creation of reserves for future use.
Providing customers, clients and attendees with value for money is extremely important. Audiences will demand attractions and a program of events that will satisfy their need for entertainment at a reasonable price. However, although cheap or free entry may attract a crowd, this will ultimately result in erosion of the financial strength of the Society.
There are many helpful suggestions contained within this Guide. There are also many people that you can approach for help. The current Secretaries of Show Societies are willing and able to provide assistance. VASA is always willing to provide advice. Many Local Government Councils are available to provide advice and the Department of Primary Industries is at the service of Societies wanting to develop the ultimate Show for their communities.
You are not alone.
1. Critical Success Factors
An examination of the Case Studies has identified the following factors as critical to achieving success.
- Structure and management of a Show Society are essential elements in facilitating the extensive planning and management required to conduct a successful Show.
- View the primary roles of the Show Society in the context of “planning,implementing and managing”and its key functions as those of a “small business offering a product to a customer base”.
- Attract community leaders and members of the broader community to the Society's membership as a priority.
- Develop a vision for the Show Society and the Show event that is in keeping with community expectations – "Dare to be different!"
- Be open to ideas, and introduce change.
- Establish a Business Plan to identify how objectives will be achieved.
- Implement an extensive and pro-active review and planning exercise for the next Show that commences as soon as the previous Show has closed.
- Know the local community and the market you seek to attract and serve.
- Broaden the marketing base of the Show beyond the traditional agricultural community to the larger general community.
- Establish and encourage community support and involvement.
- Establish a Show Program that is dynamic, innovative and focussed on attracting and entertaining the target market.
- Provide activities and features that broaden the entertainment appeal of, and participation in, the Show event.
- Address problem areas and difficulties by embracing innovative solutions and effecting change.
- Plan in advance for the replacement of key personnel.
- Ensure that trade exhibitors are given every opportunity to earn income from the Show.
- Encourage community groups to take exhibition or display space.
- Identify a broad range of exhibitors that will appeal to a variety of interests.
- Focus on the presentation of facilities, and maintain the appearance and cleanliness of the venue throughout the Show event.
- Seek and engage professional support in areas where expertise and resources to undertake specific activities are not available within the Society.
2. The Role and Structure of the Show Society
A Show Society, by defining its role and identifying an appropriate Committee structure and management processes, will ensure that it remains in touch with the ever-changing demands of its community.
The experience of successful Show Societies suggests that the structure and management processes of a Show Society are essential to facilitating the extensive planning and management that contribute to conducting a successful Show event.
Defining the role of the Show Society is a key determinant to the ongoing operation of the Society. The primary role of the Show Society might be seen as to "plan, implement and manage" its key function as a "small business offering a product to a customer base".
The Committee Structure
The structure of the Show Society Committee should be broad enough to incorporate a range of appropriate skills and expertise, and to allow for the allocation of tasks to a number of people rather than one (1) or two (2) individuals. At the same time the size of the Committee should be confined to a number that facilitates effective decision-making and the management of all processes.
A critical factor for successful Show Societies is the priority to attract community leaders to its membership and to recruit Committee members representing a broad range of community and ethnic groups, rather than limiting membership to traditional Show groups.
Identifying a Vision
Critical success factors common to the successful Show Societies examined in the Case Studies are:
- The identification of a vision for the Society and the Show event should be in keeping with community expectations and “dare to be different”.
- Recognition of the need to be open to the introduction of change.
This may require the Society to move beyond the traditional perspective of the “Aggy Show” and to present an event with an agricultural flavour that appeals to a broad spectrum of the community.This will be vital to ensuring future ongoing success.
Defining Key Objectives
The key objectives should be consistent with the Role and Vision identified for the Society and be agreed and approved by the Committee. In seeking to define the objectives:
- Identify specific and measurable objectives that are achievable.
- Identify objectives relevant to the market you are seeking to target.
- Identify revenue and profitability objectives.
- Keep objectives simple.
The Role and Responsibilities of the Executive
The Role of the President
The role of the President is to provide leadership to the Executive and the Council of the Society, to ensure that the policies and direction established by the Council are implemented and that critical reviews to evaluate the success of policy, programs, operation and personnel, are conducted.
The introduction of new events, processes, entertainment and direction will need to be led and championed by the President and Executive. This group will also need to market the Society within the community in order to attract new members.
The Role of Sub-Committees
The Executive and Council may allocate the responsibility for particular activities to Sub-Committees, Superintendents or specified Secretariats.
A Finance Committee, for example, should be established and allocated the responsibility of managing the Society’s finances, rather than this responsibility being left to an individual.
A Finance Committee should be granted the responsibility for establishing the Society’s overall budget, approving specific sections or activity budgets, authorising purchasing expenditure, and developing and monitoring a capital development and replacement budget. This Committee should establish, on behalf of the Executive, the required financial delegations and monitor the use of those delegations.The Finance Committee will also manage the audit of the Society's accounts,and establish with the Auditor accounting and money handling procedures and policies.
Specific areas of the Show Program (e.g., Cattle Program, Horse Program, Art/Craft Pavilion Based Activities, Entertainment, Site Sales etc.) may be delegated to Sub-Committees or key individuals with the responsibility and authority for setting and achieving budgets, managing the activities of volunteers, securing cash donations and trophies and reviewing the performance of the function.
The Role and Responsibilities of the Society Secretary
The position of Society Secretary is critical to the success of the Show Society and the Show.The Secretary is the key to the successful organisation and conduct of the Show.
It is necessary that the:
- Role and responsibilities of the Secretary are clearly articulated.
- Incumbent Secretary has the skills and facilities necessary to enable him or her to fulfil their responsibilities.
- Performance of the Secretary is objectively reviewed annually by the Executive.
- Secretary has access to training and professional development to build skills and networks.
- Purchasing is undertaken or authorised by the Secretary to achieve the advantage of all possible discounts.
A "Society's Secretary's Time Line", available from VASA, can be a valuable resource to assist Secretaries to plan their activities across the year.
In advertising and appointing a Secretary the Executive needs to determine if the position is to be a full or part-time position. The Executive must then determine a level of remuneration to be paid to the successful applicant that is fair, equitable, and in accordance with market rates.
Future succession planning is an integral aspect of Society management and one that is recognised as a factor critical to the success of the Show Societies examined in the Case Studies.
The Show Society must:
- Establish reasonable limits to the terms of office for key executive positions to enable the ongoing introduction of new people and fresh ideas.
- Review the performance of Stewards, Superintendents etc. on an annual basis to facilitate change and the nomination of new people.
- Involve existing Committee Members, Stewards, and Superintendents etc. in training new members, to ensure the benefit of their experience is maintained.
- Plan in advance for the replacement of key personnel.
- The Value of Experience.
Another critical success factor identified in the Case Studies is the readiness to seek and engage professional support in those areas where the expertise or resources to undertake specific activities are not available within the Show Society.
Seeking the support and services of appropriate key professionals is not a sign of inadequacy or inefficiency on the part of the Society but is good business practice. Areas where this experience and expertise may add value will include:
- Event Management.
- Security Services.
- Gate Management.
- Accounting and Auditing Services.
- Legal Services.
- Car Parking Management.
- Business Planning.
- Building Maintenance Services.
3. Developing a Business Plan
Having defined the “Business” of your Show Society, its key objectives and direction for the future, establish a “Plan” to identify how these objectives will be achieved.
Developing a Business Plan involves planning for the ongoing operation, future development and growth of the Show Society.
The Business Plan is a statement of the framework you have established across all key areas of the business for managing the ongoing operations of the Show Society. Development of a Business Plan will identify key sources of competitiveness i.e., it will help to determine how best the Society can compete in the marketplace, with the ultimate aim being a healthy and thriving business.
The Business Plan is also an effective marketing tool which can be used to secure support and assistance from key stakeholders e.g., Local Government, banks, sponsors and community groups.
Structure of the Business Plan
A structure for the Business Plan might include the following:
- Mission and Vision Statement.
- Statement of Key Objectives.
- Organisation Plan.
- Structure and Key Roles of the Committee, Stewards, Superintendents etc.
- Key Policies and Procedures.
- Resourcing and Training.
- A Budget Process that is based on a “Budget for Profit” approach.
- Identification of revenue streams and establishment of specific revenue targets.
Admissions – Number/Value.
Trade Space – Lot Allocation/Number/Value.
Sideshow Space – Lot Allocation/Number/Type/Value.
Exhibitors – Number/Value.
Food Outlets – Number/Location/Value.
Show Sponsorship – Show Naming Rights/Section and Event Sponsors.
Display Sponsorship – Pavilion, Arena and Building Naming Rights.
Competition Prizes awarded by sponsors – Named Awards and their Value.
Identification of Costs.
- Total annual costs (including all overheads and salaries).
- Long/short term capital and maintenance requirements.
- A reserving policy.
Asset Utilisation Charge.
- Show Societies are responsible for the maintenance and replacement of their physical assets.The levying of an Asset Utilisation Charge against revenue will allow the building of financial reserves to assist with the future replacement of assets.
- The suggested Asset Utilisation Charge should be equal to the depreciation rates specified in the "Tax Act".
- Show Societies are non-tax paying organisations, and therefore the charging of depreciation is not required when formal accounts are prepared.
- Identification of promotion and advertising activities.
- Development of a Sponsorship Plan.
Promotion and Advertising
Advertising and promoting the Show event, and the Show Society itself, must be an integral aspect of the marketing activities. The Society should:
- Establish a positive relationship with the local media (Press, Radio, T.V.) that will support the promotion of the Show event and other year round activities of the Show Society. This will require initiative from the Committee in actively courting members of the local press.
- Seek the ongoing support of the local media with the provision of free editorial space and community service advertising.
- Consider running a Show Supplement in the local press with paid advertising support in the lead up to the Show event.
- Use free print media to provide an alternative advertising medium e.g.,RACV publications,club and school newsletters etc.
- Consider paid advertising in the local media, including television.
- Attract specific areas of the identified target market by developing marketing tools tailored to those markets e.g., schools, community and ethnic groups, breeder and event groups.
- Develop a "Show Package" for circulation to schools identifying the opportunities for schools and individual students to participate in the Show as participants, exhibitors and attendees.
- Consider the Show Program and its distribution as a key marketing tool. It is often the major selling aid of the Society.
- Develop and design accordingly.
- Vary layout and design.
- Establish and maintain a database for distribution to:
- Previous years exhibitors and competitors.
- Community groups.
- Trade organisations.
Develop a Sponsorship Plan
A key aspect of the Marketing Plan will be the development of a Sponsorship Plan that will create an additional revenue stream to boost the Society’s income level.
The Sponsorship Plan might include:
- Appointment of a Sponsorship Manager (Volunteer or Commission Agent) to work with the President and Secretary to implement sponsorship activities.
- Identification of target groups as sponsors e.g., Corporate Sector, Key Sporting Clubs/Groups, Federal and State Government programs, Local Government and individuals.
- Professionally presented Sponsorship Packages that are tailored to the requirements of specific target groups.
- Packages must clearly identify the benefits of the sponsorship to the potential or existing sponsor, e.g., naming rights, advertisement in the Show Program, signage, Show announcements, media advertisements and the value of complimentary tickets.
- Sponsorship packages have a commercial value and must be competitively priced.
Program of Annual Activities– Additional Events
The activities of the Show Society need not be confined to the annual Show event. The Society should join with other groups within the community to participate in other activities that will enhance its profile, earn additional revenue and maintain the interest of the community and members in the Society.
Additional activities might include, but not be limited to:
- Agricultural or Animal Competitions.
- Community Festivals e.g., Music.
- Field Days.
- Motor or Truck Shows.
- Local Awards Events.
- Social Functions.
- VFF Activities.
- Training Programs and Seminars.
4. Planning for the Show Event
A successful Show is the result of an extensive and pro-active planning exercise that will commence as soon as the previous Show has closed. Planning for a Show is a long process that has strong links to the Business Plan (Section 3) and Review of the Show (Section 7).
Understand the Market for the Show
This is a key requirement to staging a successful Show event. The Show Society must review both the nature and extent of its market annually to ensure that events are always tailored to the needs of the market it seeks to attract. Knowing your local community and the market you seek to attract is critical. Broadening the market base of the Show beyond the traditional agricultural community to the larger general community is a critical success factor identified by successful Show Societies.
The Show must have a range and variety of activities, exhibits and displays. It is not enough to recycle the same program year after year.
Factors to consider in identifying the “target market” might include:
- Geographic focus – local, district, regional.
- Key target groups – young children, school-age children, teenagers, family groups, the aged, disabled.
- Multi-cultural influences.
- Local and regional tourism.
- Viewing audience vs participating audience.
- Art, craft, culinary and community interest groups.
- Linking the Show to other community activities or Festivals.
The Society could aim for a “Family Show", or centre events around a regional or historical area of specialty for example. Focussing on attracting a particular area or market segment might be an option for the Show Society.
Establish and Encourage Community Support and Involvement
This can be achieved by consulting and involving a broad range of community groups in both the planning process and the Show event.
The Society should extend the boundaries of community involvement beyond the traditional agricultural sector to involve a variety of urban and rural groups to ensure an event that will appeal to, and meet the needs of, the broader community.
Applying a broad perspective to the involvement of community groups will also spread the workload associated with conducting the Show event. Provision of a stall site or a cash donation may reward these groups.
Understand the Entertainment Requirements of the Community
The totality of the Show event provides an “entertainment experience” for many of its patrons. In addition to the traditional agricultural and rural features associated with the Show the provision of additional entertainment activities and features that broaden the appeal of and participation in the Show, is a critical success factor.
Building an attraction and entertainment base can be achieved over consecutive Shows. This process acknowledges the need to maintain a “fresh” approach to the Show's entertainment offering. The Society must consider activities that are consistent with the interests of their community, as well as those that are not readily available to a rural audience.
A strong feature attraction can create publicity and generate discussion and interest among all age groups within the community in the lead up to the Show.
Secure the Support of Local Government
The support of Local Government is a significant asset to conducting a successful Show and the ongoing success of the Show Society.Local Government can,and does,in a number of municipalities,provide assistance to Show Societies in the following areas:
- Facility Maintenance.
- Sponsorship: general and/or specific.
- Venue and traffic management signage.
- Publicity and advertising – via Council newsletters, websites etc.
- Management/organisational support.
A Show Society should work to secure and maintain the support of Local Government by regular contact and dialogue with both Councillors and senior executives. Any sponsorship secured from Local Government should be supported with the provision of appropriate sponsorship benefits (naming rights, signage, advertisements etc.).
Assistance from Event Managers
The engaging of an Event Manager may assist the Show Society to identify an attraction and to plan the integration of that attraction into the general Show activities to ensure that the maximum benefit accrues to the Society.
Organising Volunteers - Delegated Authority
Superintendents, Stewards and Judges must be fully briefed and made aware of their responsibilities by the appropriate supervising Sub-Committee or Secretariat – and must report regularly to the Executive Committee through the Secretary.
Individuals with delegated authority must report regularly in a structured manner and meet budget and time requirements.
In establishing the volunteer workforce it is necessary to ensure experienced people are available and circulated to all areas of the Show activity. It is important that they have assistants who are trained in the requirements of the position and who can be given a job of interest and responsibility in the future. It is also important to involve volunteers well in advance of the Show event.
Maintaining regular contact with volunteers and recognising and rewarding their significant contribution to the Show Society is essential to ensuring their continued participation.The Society might consider:
- Establishment of practical and realistic schedules for volunteer participation that recognise alternative commitments and provide adequate opportunities for meals and breaks.
- A letter of thanks to volunteers following the Show event.
- Input from volunteers as part of the Show Review process.
- Recognition of the contribution of individual volunteers on a more formal basis e.g., service awards, life memberships, specific social functions.
Security and Safety
The Show Society must be aware of its responsibility to provide exhibitors, competitors, staff, contractors and the public with a safe and secure work and entertainment environment.
In preparing showgrounds for the Show an audit should be conducted to identify any safety issues that exist. These matters will need to be attended to prior to the Show so that the Society meets its insurance obligations.
Members of the public who attend the Show are entitled to feel secure and not be subjected to anti-social behaviour. In organising the Show the Victoria Police should be contacted to discuss and plan matters of crowd control, crowd security and traffic management. It may also be prudent to discuss these issues with private security service providers, especially the question of cash handling and management.
The provision of first aid facilities and animal veterinary services should also be considered.
Hire of Trade/Exhibition Space
The sale of space for trade exhibits and other exhibition and commercial sites is a prime source of revenue and must be managed in a professional manner within established guidelines.
The management of trade and exhibition space sales and hire should be allocated to an experienced person or Sub-Committee who will assume responsibility for:
- Planning the space available for sale.
- Establishing the dimensions of, and the criteria for, the hiring of individual sites.
- Setting, and gaining Executive approval for, site hire rates.
- Managing the setting up of displays and exhibits.
- Ensuring exhibitors are appropriately insured and meet the criteria for site hire.
- Reviewing site hire fees on an annual basis.
Key success factors associated with the hire of Show sites are:
- Identifying a broad range of exhibitors that will appeal to a variety of interests.
- Ensuring that trade exhibitors are given every opportunity to earn income from the Show.
- Catering for exhibitors' needs and requirements during the Show event.
- Encouraging community groups to take exhibition or display space.
Opportunities for Growth and Change
Show Societies need to be progressive in their outlook and receptive to new ideas and change in general if they are to maintain and improve their competitive position in the community.
The opportunity for growth and change will emanate from reviewing the strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures of the total Show experience.
A critical success factor identified is the readiness of a Show Society to take a proactive approach to addressing problem areas and difficulties by embracing innovative approaches and effecting change.
- A “slash and burn” and “new ideas” approach as a follow-up to the Show Review will ensure a Show event that maintains a fresh appeal and accommodates the changing needs of the community.
- A Show activity that is assessed by the Show Review process as no longer relevant to the target market should not be maintained merely on the basis of “tradition”. All areas of the Show must attract people and return a profit.
- Events that are desirable features in the Show Program but are failing to achieve their expected contribution may benefit from a comprehensive review as to how they are presented, managed and marketed.
"Gate" Control – Handling Money
Controlling admissions and administration of the gate is an essential component of managing the Show event. The financial contribution achieved at the gate is the major source of revenue and will involve the handling of significant amounts of cash.
- The Committee will need to establish guidelines to account for admission issues i.e:
- Definition of admission categories i.e., children, student, concession, family.
- “Pass-out” policy.
- Restricted admission.
- The issue of complimentary tickets to sponsors, and also volunteers, is an area that requires careful management.
- Gate management may be allocated to a group of volunteers who should be thoroughly briefed by a Committee member as to the admission guidelines.
- A community group or club may be allocated this task in return for a donation for their assistance e.g., Rotary, Lions, Uncle Bob’s.
- A designated member of the Show Society should collect cash collected at the gate at regular intervals throughout the Show event.
An increasing number of sporting organisations, and a number of Show Societies, are engaging specialist security groups to support volunteers in managing the gate and to secure handling of cash. The Society's auditor should be asked for advice in this area.
5. The Show Program
Development of the Show Program is closely linked to the Society’s identified Vision. The Program should be dynamic and innovative and focus on attracting and entertaining the market group the Society has identified to target – Dare to be different!
In developing the Show Program, the Society might:
- Incorporate activities and exhibits that are supported and profitable for the Society.
- Incorporate other community events into the Show Program e.g., Art Show, Food Festivals, Street Parades.
- Establish a “theme” for the Show, which may vary each year or be a permanent aspect of the Show.
- Focus on exhibitions by young people to increase the crowd support of parents, siblings and grandparents.
- Seek support from the newer areas of agriculture (e.g., new crops, breeds, animals, activities, processors).
- Finalise the Program well in advance of the Show and allow sufficient time for printing and distribution.
- Set a strict closing date for Show Entries.
- Set fees at a level that will generate a profit and lead to long-term financial stability.
- Encourage entries from the non-farming as well as the farming community.
- Provide a range of “free” activities for children e.g., Animal Nursery.
- Consider the Show as a venue for farmer training e.g., the release of research and farming methods, occupational health and safety issues etc.
AttractionsIncorporating a range of attractions in the Show Program will add to the appeal of the Show and be the basis for targeting particular segments of the community. Continually reviewing the attractions offered will ensure that the Show presents a changing variety of activities that will meet the entertainment needs of the community.The Society could consider:
- Inviting a special guest to open the Show, present trophies awards etc.This may be a celebrity appropriate to the theme or general ambience of the Show or a well-known local identity.
- Activities that link to other Show events.
Role of the Showmen's Guild
The role of the Showmen’s Guild may have diminished over recent years with the broadening of Show activities and a decreasing emphasis on the sideshow component of individual Shows. The Guild is however still an integral aspect of many rural Shows.
The Show Society should manage its relationship with the Guild by:
- Nominating an experienced member of the Show Society to liaise with the Showmen’s Guild.
- Allocating a specific area to the Showmen and requiring that all Showmen activities operate within the dimensions of allocated sites within the allocated area.
- Allocating specific sites to meet the stated requirements of each of the participating operators and demanding that each operator must not encroach on any neighbouring site.
- Ensuring that documentation indicating current and adequate insurance cover and legal compliance for rides is sighted prior to authorising the setting up and operation of rides etc.
- Adopting a strong policy of "no cover – no operation" or "no compliance with the Show rules – no operation".
- Reviewing the attractiveness and popularity of the "sideshow" component of the Show and working with the operators and the Guild to ensure that rides are updated to ensure their ongoing viability.
- Setting site fees that reflect the financial requirements of the Society and allow the operators to make a profit.
6. Facility Management
Showground facilities need not be single purpose facilities, nor need they be owned, leased or rented exclusively by the Show Society. If facilities are owned Societies must develop alternative uses and revenue streams to assist in defraying their costs of maintaining and replacing the facilities. Societies should also consider alternative methods of acquiring the appropriate event facilities including:
- Utilizing other sporting, recreation or community facilities that are appropriate to the needs of the Society.
- Sharing permanent storage facilities with other community groups to defray costs.
The Show Venue
The geographic location of Show facilities away from population centres or major traffic flows may mean that the Society has to critically examine the benefit of moving the Show to another location, which is more in keeping with its current program and the requirements of its community.
If the Society determines that it will relocate the Show to premises owned or controlled by other bodies it is critical that the Society Secretary or a responsible person remembers to book the site for the date and day required.
Car parking and traffic management are important aspects in the conduct of the Show event. The practical aspects and the involvement of local Councils have been covered previously.The growth of crowds brings with it the problem of car parking.
Some Societies have addressed this problem by purchasing extra land to accommodate the additional cars.This may not be the best solution to the problem as it ties the Societies' capital to assets that are limited in the income that they can generate.
It may be more appropriate for the Society to rent additional car park space from the Council, schools or other community groups, and transport patrons by bus to the Show.
Preperation and Maintenance of the Show Facility
Prior to the opening of the Show a major focus of the Society must be the appearance, presentation and cleanliness of the venue.This is a key factor in attracting support from the community.
A fully budgeted repair and maintenance program must be drawn up by the Society as part of the Review of the Show. The program needs to address issues of health and safety, repairs to facilities, painting, cleaning of facilities such as toilets and restrooms, seats and viewing facilities. Facilities need to be weather proofed and animal stalls and pavilions inspected to ensure the safety of both animals and their handlers.
Presentation on Show Days
Patron and exhibitor comfort is an important factor in developing return patronage. To assist in making the visit to the Show memorable and achieving return patronage it will help if:
- Toilets and other patron facilities are regularly cleaned throughout the Show event.
- Rubbish is removed regularly during the course of the day.
- Professional cleaners are engaged to undertake this task, with the cost being incorporated into fees charged to exhibitors and vendors alike.
- Appropriate stock loading and stock wash facilities are provided.
7. Reviewing the Show EventReviewing the Show Event, its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement is a critical factor to ensuring the success of Shows.
- A Show Review should be implemented as soon as possible following the event, and input sought from a variety of sources:
- Committee Members.
- Individuals or groups with responsibility for specific aspects of the Show.
- The review of the Show should not be confined to the level of attendance but can be considered across a broad perspective including:
- Sponsorship and donations.
- Gate receipts and management.
- Exhibitor levels.
- Entries received vs. target.
- Costs incurred vs. target.
- Revenue received vs. target.
- Areas of poor profitability.
- Areas of poor response.
- Problem areas.
- Media coverage.
- Traffic management issues.
- Suggested changes to program and exhibits.
- Facility maintenance and replacement issues.
- Those charged with the responsibility for specific areas of activity should present to the Executive an extensive review of their area of responsibility including:
- Performance against budget.
- Areas of loss or non-performance.
- Facility maintenance and upgrade requirements.
- Areas affected by reduced entries.
- Opportunities for expansion and success.
- Recommended level of exhibitor fee increases.
- Recommended level of exhibitor prize levels.
8. Operating Checklist
This Checklist presents an overview of activities for the Show Society and has been developed with reference to the “Society's Secretary’s Time Line”, which provides a more detailed summary of operational activities. This document can be obtained by contacting the VASA Executive Office.
|Define the role of the Show Society.|
|Identify an appropriate Committee structure.|
|Identify a vision for the Show Society and the Show event.|
|Define key objectives.|
|Identify and clearly articulate the role of the Secretary.|
|Establish a plan for the succession of key personnel.|
|Develop a Business Plan.|
- Seek a budget and projected works plan from all sections.
|Identify areas where professional assistance should be sought to add value to the Society’s activities.|
|Consider additional events to develop a Program of Annual Activities.|
|Establish a planning process for the Show event as soon as the previous Show has closed.|
|Review the nature and extent of the market you seek to attract – define the “target market”.|
|Review the venue for the Show and the provision, acquisition and utilisation of Show facilities.|
|Identify a plan to establish and encourage community support and involvement in planning the Show event.|
|Establish a plan to work with Local Government Councils to secure and maintain their support.|
|Identify and involve the volunteer workforce well in advance of the Show event, and maintain regular contact with this group, e.g., pre-Show dinner or function.|
|Sub-Committees, Superintendents, and Secretaries to collaborate with judges. Establish a process for securing their involvement and guidelines for their activities.|
|Organise and sort ribbons/cards/trophies.|
|Review, develop and define the Show Program.|
|Confirm facility bookings and arrangements.|
|Establish a process to build the attraction and entertainment base of the Show – identify and book attractions well in advance of the Show event.|
|Establish guidelines and responsibilities for the hire or sale of trade and exhibition space.|
|Consider public liability insurance requirement.|
|Establish pricing policy.|
|Negotiate sponsorships and advertising.|
|Review promotion and publicity campaign:|
|Arrange production of printed matter, programs etc.|
|Negotiate advertising space and media coverage.|
|Secure sponsorship and advertising revenue.|
|Apply for a liquor licence if required.|
Identify and organise catering arrangements – consider catering arrangements for Committee members, judges, volunteers and other staff as well as patrons.
|Establish guidelines and processes for securely managing the gate and handling money.|
|Review safety and security issues for the Show event – arrange appropriate assistance – incorporate in budget.|
|Consider the preparation and maintenance of facilities for the Show event.|
|Distribute promotional tools – programs etc.|
Consider a comprehensive approach to the target market, i.e., mail outs, school visits, shopping centre presence.
|Implement a progressive publicity campaign.|
|Receive and process Show entries.|
|Receive applications for trade and exhibition sites.|
|Confirm availability and adequacy of facilities.|
|Notify local authorities of details of Show event and book, i.e., police, St. John's Ambulance, vets.|
|Ensure currency of affiliation fees and insurance charges.|
|Review staffing arrangements for the event – Committee and volunteer.|
|Review venue and facility arrangements – commence preparation of facility delegating responsibility to relevant sections.|
|Restore grounds and buildings following the Show event as required.|
|Distribute results and reports to all appropriate areas.|
|Press releases – local media.|
|Arrange appropriate acknowledgments for sponsors, donors and volunteers.|
|Implement a comprehensive review of the Show event incorporating all activity areas.|
Nhill A&P Society Incorporated
Case Study 1
With a proud record of 116 annual Shows since its inaugural Show in 1884, the Nhill A&P Society has shown it can deliver a Show which entertains and excites its audience and also demonstrates its commitment to building community trust and involvement.
At a time when innovation is essential to capture attention, the Nhill Show "dares to be different". Being ambitious is one of the keys to Nhill's success. The Society recognises that people want access to attractions that traditionally have only been enjoyed by city dwellers. For example by bringing the RAAF Roulettes to the "2000" Show, the Society demonstrated that it could "aim high" and draw a wider audience who took away memories of an experience that had been brought to them in their own region.
Similarly, by extending the Show’s program into the evening, and introducing a fireworks display, the Show’s popularity in the region has been enhanced.Without detracting from the tried-and-true menu of show attractions, the introduction of additional entertainment serves to promote attendance and to surprise and delight people. Only when the community’s entertainment needs are understood can they be satisfied, and it is by nurturing this deep connection to the community that the Society has stayed in touch with its support base.
The Nhill A&P Society does not focus solely on the Annual Show. It conducts other activities during the year including:
- Wimmera Crop Competition.
- Clearing Sale (Mid February).
- Sale of Fire Wood.
- Sheep Dog Trials (October).
- An Open Garden (November).
- Annual General Meeting Dinner.
- Christmas Break-up Function.
The Nhill Show is held on the third Thursday in October. A half-day holiday is declared for the day of the Show. The Show is conducted in the same week as the Mildura, Mt. Gambier and Geelong Shows and is at the end of the spring show cycle being after the Jeparit Show.
It commences with the horse judging at 9.00 a.m. Judging continues across all sections from 10.00 a.m. with the exhibitions/displays being open to the public from 1.30 p.m.concluding with fireworks at 9.00 p.m.The disabled and the aged are able to visit displays from 1.00 p.m. The evening show attractions commence at 4.30 p.m., at the conclusion of the agricultural events judging.
Two (2) important awards form part of the program each year.These are:
- Young Citizen Award (20-25 years).
- Junior Show Ambassador (16-20 years).
Winners can go on to compete in State finals.
Sources of Support
The A&P Society is supported by the fund raising efforts of the:
- Ladies of the A&P Society.
- Vintage Society Men and Ladies Committees.
- Garden Club.
The Nhill business community sponsors the evening fireworks program.
Sponsorship Packages are developed to give the Sponsorship Committee a range of agreed packages for presentation and discussion with potential sponsors. These packages include tickets to the Show and an advertisement in the Show program ($100 per page or $50 per half page), signage and limited naming rights.
All Show events attract prizes,most of which are funded through donations.There were a total of fifty-seven (57) sponsors and donors at the "2000" Show.
The Showmen’s Guild is involved with the Show. An experienced and senior member of the Society's executive manages this involvement through personal contact with Showmen.
Getting the message into the community is vital if the Show is to attract the support it needs for financial success. Some of the communication activities of the Nhill A&P Society include:
- A Show Supplement run by the Society in co-operation with the Nhill newspaper with paid advertising support in the week leading up to the Show. This is not only a reminder to the general Nhill community but is a major generator of entries.
- Some T.V. advertising:
- Small number of paid advertisements.
- Community service spots.
- A program for the Show, which is finalised in June and printed and published in July.
- The program aims to attract and entertain.
- Mailed to members, previous year’s exhibitors.
The Nhill A&P Society has a Committee of twenty-seven (27) members. The Committee meets monthly for ten (10) months of the year.
- The Presidential term is two (2) years with an option for a third year.
- Succession is planned in advance and recruitment of people onto the Committee from the general community is a priority.
- The "volunteer ethic" is alive and well in Nhill. However the Society recognises the need for a paid Secretary.
An Executive Committee of eight (8) members consists of the President, Immediate Past President, Senior Vice President, Junior Vice President, Secretary and two (2) Life Members. Eight (8) sub-committees support the work of the Executive, namely:
- Finance and Insurance.
- Attractions and Entertainment.
- Farm Management.
- Sheep Dog Trials.
- Provision of Power.
- Citizens Award.
An effective Ladies Committee that makes a particular contribution with fund raising supports the General Committee.
Committee members are allocated specific responsibilities and authorities, and are required to report regularly to the Executive Committee.
- "The name of the game is involvement".
The Society has for many years been acutely aware of the need for prudent financial management and planning. A Finance Committee was established with responsibility for:
- Setting budgets with input from other Committees.
- Cash flow management (this is necessary as expenses are incurred prior to receipt of entries.)
- Sponsorship (Pre-paid).
- All sideshows and exhibit revenue.
- Ensuring that the Society is debt-free.
- Building the Society's financial reserves to ensure that funds exist for the maintenance and replacement of physical assets.
The Club holds annual elections, with nominations being called for vacant positions prior to the Annual General Meeting with any required ballot conducted at the AGM.
As mentioned previously, the Showmen's Guild is involved with the Show. The Showmen are required to produce documentation of current and adequate insurance cover before they are allowed to set up and operate. The Showmen are allocated a specific site and are required to operate within those sites.The charges for these sites are reviewed and set annually.
Sites in the sideshow area and for machinery and equipment stands are laid out and allocated with a site charge levied on area. Electricity is a separate charge based on the cost of generator hire. Electricity supply has been a problem for the Society as capacity is limited, thereby creating a need for generator hire, costs of which are met by exhibitors.
Entries for the Show are strongly supported by the general non-farming community as well as the farming community.
The Nhill Showgrounds is a freehold property owned by the A&P Society Inc.
- The Society is negotiating to buy additional land to expand its operating area.
- Society property is subject to rates and this cost has to be budgeted for annually.
Review and Development
Learning from experience (and applying the lessons) is one key factor in the continuing improvement and innovation at the Nhill Show.
A review meeting is held on the Monday after the Show. The meeting is attended by all members of the Committee, Superintendents and people responsible for Sections (Head Stewards).The meeting identifies problem areas such as:
- Poor responses.
- Security issues.
- Crowd issues – patron safety.
The Head Steward/Superintendents are responsible for reviewing the performance of the sections for which they are responsible:
- Performance against budget.
- Identification of areas of loss and non-performance.
- Facility maintenance and upgrade issues.
- Sections suffering from reduced entries.
- Loss making areas of the Show.
- Areas of success and possible future expansion.
Superintendents consult judges as part of the review process on the day of the Show.
The Society Executive is fully involved in reviewing the performance of Stewards, Superintendents and Chairs, and initiates change with the nomination of new and, in the main, younger people. People are kept involved with new jobs and in assisting with training of new members.
The Nhill A&P Society continues to play an important role in contributing to the vitality and involvement of the local community. Its vision of "daring to be different" has given it a sense of adventure and experimentation in devising the annual Show program. It does not rest on its laurels but carries out an active supplementary program of events, keeping its structures and mechanisms honed for the big event.
Learning from experience plays its part in reinforcing the accountability of the Committee, and the review, which follows on closely from the Show, helps to build a ramp for ongoing improvement and refinement of the centrepiece of the Society’s annual program.
Whittlesea Agricultural Society Inc.
Case Study 2
(The figures contained in the following Case Study are not necessarily accurate. They are indicative of the true position of the Show Society and are included to assist the reader in understanding the scope of the success achieved. The reader should focus on the actions and achievements of a highly successful Show Society rather than specific numbers).
With a history stretching back some 141 years, the Whittlesea Agricultural Society has demonstrated its capacity to survive and grow through a period of extraordinary change. The Whittlesea Show is now the longest established as well as one of the biggest agricultural shows in Victoria. It continues to evolve through innovation and the development of close connections with the community it serves.
In meeting the challenges of change the Whittlesea Agricultural Society’s councillors have forged a clear strategy by positioning the Show as "The Family Show" thereby facilitating the task of enlisting community and wider commercial support, and underpinning the financial viability of the Show. This move has enabled the Society to take advantage of the rapidly growing population in the surrounding region and to build its "gate".
The November Whittlesea Show attracts a "gate" of about 50,000 people over a two (2) day period. It has become a fixture in the life of the Whittlesea and neighbouring communities, which demonstrate their support not only through attendance, but also by their participation in the ever-widening program of events.
With a budget in excess of $300,000 the Show is a long way from its origins in the 1850s, when its forty (40) members each contributed one (£1) pound to begin the enterprise. The continuing relevance of the Show to the surrounding community is widely recognised within the Society.
What are the secrets of Whittlesea’s success and in what directions are its Councillors taking it?
Sources of Support
All agricultural shows must attract support from a wide range of sources if they are to survive and prosper. Once this support is won, the Show Society must take these new stakeholders' interests into account and cater for their needs if it is to retain their loyalty. In engaging a broad range of supporters and understanding their needs the Whittlesea Agricultural Society has been clear-sighted and successful. Some of the sectors and groups Whittlesea has focused on are:
- Regional Schools: Some fifty (50) schools in the area provided 6,000 exhibits at the 2000 Show. Students entered in competitions (classified by age) such as arts and craft, cooking and preserves, photography, graphics, technology studies and creative writing. One important benefit of strong student participation is that the involvement of the students increases the prospect of attendance by family members and the broader school communities at the Show.
- Ethnic and Koori groups: These groups are encouraged to plan and enter exhibits. Their participation ensures that the changing nature and structure of Australian society is reflected within the Shows exhibits, food outlets and other entertainments.
- Community groups: These are encouraged to provide services to assist with specific functions, or as exhibitors or vendors at the Show.
- Sponsor support: Strong sponsor and donor support is received annually from 345 individuals and companies.
- Trade exhibitors: These mainly, though not exclusively, have a connection to agriculture, and provide strong support. Their need to make a return from their participation in the Show is recognised and understood, and the Society creates a commercial environment which helps trade exhibitors and vendors to achieve this objective.
- Local Government Councils: The Society works closely with the Whittlesea City Council, which provides support and assistance through the maintenance of the Showgrounds, the provision of signage to direct people to the Show and to car parks, plus funding via sponsorship and specific grant funding. The Society seeks to involve the Mayor and Councillors through their attendance at the Show, thereby strengthening the relationship. The Nillumbik Shire Council also takes an interest in the Show as many of its residents attend. Nillumbik is adjacent to Whittlesea and is seen as an area of strong support for the Show.
Running a successful Show requires an energetic communication strategy and programs. Whittlesea Agricultural Society has developed a number of avenues using a variety of initiatives and media to get its messages out – and not just in the period immediately before their Show:
- An "Agriculture in Education Package" increases students' knowledge of the Show, and encourages the participation of students from regional schools.
- A newspaper, "Whittlesea Show News", is circulated in the northern and north-eastern fringes of the Melbourne metropolitan area. It had a circulation of 110,000 in 1999.
- The Show’s program is finalised some four (4) months prior to Show Day and is printed and distributed seven (7) weeks before opening day. The program is mailed to all Society members, previous exhibitors, schools, and others who are seen as prospective exhibitors.The print run was six thousand (6,000) in the Year 2000.
- The role of the Society is to plan, develop, implement and manage. The Society exercises its roles of planning, development, implementation and management on behalf of its members.
- Terms of Office
President: 2 Years
Vice President: 2 Years (Senior)
Vice President: 2 Years (Junior)
Councillors: 15 Years
- The Society has an Executive Committee of thirty-three (33) members which meets monthly. The average attendance is approximately twenty (20) per meeting.
- The Council of the Society has a membership of 106 members. After fifteen (15) years as a Councillor a person must stand aside and become a nonelected Honorary Councillor. This structure allows the introduction of new people, ideas and skills to the Society and its Executive Committee. New leaders are appointed from a sizeable pool of Councillors and, over time, refresh the Society’s approach to growing the Show. Succession planning is easier to manage with such a widespread pool of experienced people.
- The large number of Councillors provides the Society with a broad range of skills and experience, and with the capacity to reach out to the broader community through an extensive web of personal and networked connections, thereby promoting greater awareness of the Show, its attractions and place in the community. It also provides Council with the opportunity to attract the required skills to the Council and Executive.
- Each Section submits a budget to the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee is responsible for developing and reviewing the budget, setting and reviewing accounting policies and budget priorities, and incorporating the Section's requirements into the Society’s budget.This is then submitted to the Executive for approval.
- The Finance Committee is required to review budget performance and report back to the Council.
- The Finance Committee develops and monitors the capital development and replacement budget – which helps avoid the problems caused by attending only to short-term development needs.
- All purchasing is centralised and tightly controlled by the Secretary to ensure the achievement of all possible discounts with prior approval sought from the Finance Committee.
- The Society's Secretary is a part-time paid position.The Secretary is required to submit management reports regularly to the Executive and report on the exercise of financial delegations to meetings of the Executive and Council.
- Authority is devolved to Councillors as Superintendents for specific Sections of the Show. The Superintendents are responsible for setting Section budgets, including having that budget approved, attaining the budget through site sales,the attraction of entries,cash and trophy donations.They also manage the setting up of displays and exhibits and check that insurance obligations of exhibitors and other entry conditions are met.
- Superintendents, whose responsibilities are clearly articulated, are required to prepare a report on their Section's performance within three (3) days of the completion of the Show.Topics to be covered include:
- Changes to make up of exhibits.
- Organisation, including people performance.
- Report against budget on entries, donations and cash.
- Finalisation of expenses.
- Report on traffic flows.
- Future maintenance and capital replacement requirements.
- Alcohol is not sold and not encouraged to be taken onto the Showgrounds, in keeping with the character of the Show as "The Family Show".
- Access to, and the issue of, complimentary tickets is carefully controlled and limited to the President and Secretary.
- Superintendents, stewards and judges are well briefed on their responsibilities and roles and are encouraged to report back regularly to the Executive Committee, Secretary and other senior office holders.
- The performance of all paid and unpaid officials is assessed objectively as part of the review of the Show.
Innovation and the Future
Having developed a winning strategy to date, the Whittlesea Agricultural Society is mindful of the need to continue on the path of innovation. Its ever-strengthening links with the community, at a time when communities are seeking more grass-roots involvement in community-building, provides it with an opportunity to tap into the interests of that community, in shaping its program of events and its web of connections to stakeholders.
Recent innovations have included:
- Extending the education display area by thirty-three (33%) per cent to accommodate future growth.
- An animal nursery, which attracted about 13,000 visitors during the Year 2000 Show.
- Introduction of a Food Expo, which has provided an opportunity for value-adding producers to display their wares and to excite interest through samplings. Producers are motivated to participate through the opportunity to build their brands and make immediate sales.
- A Sponsorship Manager and some forty (40) sponsorship collectors sell sponsorship packages to the corporate sector. These are invoiced and collected no later than four (4) days prior to the Show’s commencement.
Rides have been a limited feature of recent Shows, however, some rides will be in place at the Year 2001 Show.
The Whittlesea Agricultural Society has successfully continued its traditional role of running the prized and widely supported Whittlesea Agricultural Show. Its success has hinged on winning the interest and active support of the local community, on managing its affairs professionally; and on progressive thinking, or "moving with the times". It has not allowed itself to become static in its thinking and has continually extended the range of activities carried on at the Show to provide value for those attending.
The Society has returned excellent dividends to the community and to wider agricultural interests – keeping faith with the origins that brought it into being.
Bass Coast Agricultural Show
Case Study 3 – Wonthaggi & District Agricultural Pastoral and Horticultural Society Inc.
The Bass Coast Agricultural Show has emerged from earlier periods in its long life when changes in location and scarcity of resources threatened its viability,and is now acknowledged as one of Victoria's most successful Shows.This achievement owes much to a readiness by the Society to re-invent the Show as a "community event" rather than an "agricultural show" while still retaining and cherishing its essential connections to agriculture.
Attendance at the 2001 Show, which was billed as a Federation Show, was approximately 6,000 – a twenty (20%) per cent increase on the previous year.
The summer date for the Show brings with it the challenges of a holiday period crammed with competing events. To counter these challenges the Wonthaggi & District Agricultural Pastoral and Horticultural Society has adopted the strategy of refreshing and upgrading the traditional Show program with new events and activities. Making space for entertainment has been an important initiative.
Looking back and carefully reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of each Show during and immediately following the event has contributed to constant improvement and innovation. Change is embraced rather than resisted.
Regarding the Show as a "product" which must appeal to the target audience has brought a new mindset to the Show Society.
Sources of Support
The Society has developed a positive relationship with the Bass Coast Shire Council.This relationship is viewed as integral to its ongoing success. The Society as part of its established approach to continually reviewing and developing its activities first approached Council about two (2) years ago, and demonstrated that it was receptive to advice from outside sources by accepting advice from Council’s Tourism Manager. The Society was unsuccessful in obtaining a State Government Federation Grant to stage a “Federation Show”. However Council adopted the event as its Federation activity (attended by the Governor) and funded the Society to the extent of $10,000.
The Society has received sponsorship from Council for the 2002 Show which will be allocated to the provision of Show entertainment.
Each year the Society endeavours to broaden its focus. In 2002 the focus will be to target young children and teenagers by incorporating particular activities to attract this group.
The Society has recognised the multi-cultural influence within its region and is seeking to recognise the contribution of individual ethnic communities in the Show program, e.g., they have featured an Italian Choir, South American dancers and Scottish pipers.
The Society has concentrated on attracting and retaining volunteer assistance and is careful to ensure that volunteers are well looked after. The Society has a catering budget to provide quality meals to volunteers on Show Day and light refreshments on the three (3) set-up days prior to the event. The CWA and the Salvation Army provide the volunteer labour for official and exhibitor catering – the Society pays for the food in both cases.
Community organisations have also been encouraged to contribute and assist with management of the "gates".They receive a donation for their assistance e.g., Uncle Bob’s, SES, Local Woodwork Group.
All volunteers pay for admission but are reimbursed via their Supervisor.
- The Society has sought to extend its base beyond Wonthaggi through the judicious use of advertising where television, radio and the print media have been used to promote its activities.
- The Society has established a positive relationship with the local print media. It has had to work hard to achieve this by actively courting media contacts and are now finding they receive some free editorial space.The Society also uses the Weekly Times and the free print media e.g., RACV Journal, Stock and Land, regional newspapers and liaises with the local TV and radio stations.
- The Society "markets" itself to the volunteer groups by keeping in touch with them on a regular basis and recognising their contribution e.g., letters of thanks, life membership etc.
- A significant initiative implemented by the Society has been the move to "in-house" production of promotional material e.g.,brochures,programs.The cost associated with the development,printing and distribution of promotional material was identified as a significant issue. Current promotional publications are produced utilising volunteer labour. Committee members or friends develop material by computer. The Society pays for paper used for printing material. Brochures are envelope size to reduce the cost of postage.
- Regional meetings of Show Groups are viewed as positive in terms of discussing local, regional and State issues and as a venue for disseminating information.
- A street parade conducted prior to last year’s Show was very successful, and heightened awareness of the Show.
- The Show Society was incorporated under the Associations Incorporations Act two (2) years ago. Whilst incorporation was not generally viewed as essential in the first instance, the Committee has now recognised significant advantages delivered by this initiative.Adoption of the rules of this model has replaced the earlier unstructured approach.The new rules are visible and provide the Committee with the security of a comprehensive and consistent operating framework.
- Executive positions include:
- Two (2) Vice-Presidents.
- General Secretary.
- Livestock Secretary.
- Pavilion Secretary.
- Poultry Secretary.
- The Executive Committee positions are subject to election at the Annual General Meeting. Nominations are sought and voted upon.There is a secret ballot for multiple nominations.
- The President, Secretary and Supervisors are paid a modest honorarium.
- The President, Pavilion Secretary and Bass Coast Shire representative form an Action Committee that undertakes the planning role in regard to entertainment activities and the marketing and promotion of the Show event. A specific "Planning Sheet" has been developed to facilitate the planning process and share the workload.
- The Society currently operates with a General Committee of sixteen (16) members who are relatively young, with an average age of mid-40’s. Maintaining a "fresh" Committee is a priority. New members are actively sought and welcomed.
The Committee has a "Power to Add" proviso, that was introduced a number of years ago, that allows the co-opting of new members to the Committee. An election is not required for new General Committee Members but they are required to pay a nominal membership fee.
Members representing community groups, other than the traditional "Show" groups, have been introduced to the Committee in recent years e.g., St John Ambulance, Miss Show Girl activity, Pony Club, Adult Riding.
- A significant initiative implemented by the Committee in managing its activities has been the extension of the Secretarial role across four categories. Whilst the traditional role of General Secretary incorporates the administrative function (e.g., acceptance of money, booking of exhibition space at shows) another three (3) Secretarial positions have been introduced to cover specific aspects of Show activities.They are:
- Pavilion Secretary.
- Livestock Secretary – cattle, horses.
- Poultry Secretary.
Each Secretary manages his or her own area of responsibility on a sub-committee basis thereby spreading the administrative workload to a manageable level for four people rather than overloading one person with what are essentially volunteer positions. Each group has its own team of volunteers working towards the conduct of the Show.
- The General Committee meets monthly, extending to bi-monthly during winter with the sub-committees meeting as required. The Action Committee meets monthly but increases the frequency of meetings to fortnightly closer to the Show event.
- Planning for the Show is pro-active with the planning process commencing immediately following the conduct of the previous Show.
- Entry Fees:
Age 5 and below: Free
Family: $12.00 (2 adults/2 children)
The entry fee covers all activities other than carnival activities, food and refreshments.
Significant emphasis has been placed by the Society on making as much available to children on a “free” basis as possible.
- The Society rents the Show venue from Council at a minimal, or zero, rental. Council maintains the venue. The Show owns its own "shed" and maintains it at minimal cost.The Football Club uses the shed for storage and in return allows its rooms/kitchen to be used on Show day. The Angling Club rooms are also utilised for a small donation. The Table Tennis rooms are rented as the "pavilion" on Show Day, as is the Leisure Centre.
- The Society has both a manual and electronic database.
- Facility cleaning is undertaken both prior to the Show and throughout the Show event and paid for by the Society to ensure the venue is clean and attractive at all times.
Review and Development
Conscious of the need for continual innovation and improvement of the Show the Society evaluates the Show both during and immediately following the event.
Each of the activity areas conducts an evaluation exercise immediately following the Show event and on a general basis – usually within one month. Each group reports to the Committee at the first Meeting following the event. Individual group meetings conduct an extensive "slash and burn" and "new ideas" review of Show activities.
A "notebook" is maintained on-site throughout the Show event for comments by those involved regarding the conduct of the Show. A video is shot of the day’s activities and interviews with attendees are undertaken on the day.
Key benchmark factors applied by the Society include:
- Gate receipts.
- Exhibitor levels.
- Trade displays.
- Positive media coverage.
- Income earned by capital investment.
Feedback on the Show is sought from a range of areas i.e., community, media, and exhibitors.
The Society is progressive in its outlook, recognising the need to be open to new ideas and change in general and to continually review its activities. For example an Art Show, with a prize, was added to the 2001 Show program. A significant local component to exhibitions is viewed as important.
The Society seeks to provide something new each year. Every year the Society arranges a special guest for presentations. In the last two (2) years the Show has carried a particular theme. In 2001 the Show was designated the “Bass Coast Federation Show”. An alternative theme is being considered for 2001 with a continuing emphasis on the broader Bass Coast concept.
An illustration of innovation through consultation occurred when the Society, with Council assistance, successfully addressed a declining "Cattle Program" by meeting with exhibitors to canvass their needs. Some sponsorship was obtained from the artificial breeding and herd improvement organisations.
As a result:
- Stalls were renovated.
- The distance travelled by exhibitors was recognised with some re-imbursement of petrol expenses as an "appearance fee".
- Exhibitors were provided with a meal on Show Day.
- Animals were provided with bedding.
- Judging and milking displays were held early so that those farmers who needed to return for evening milking could get away.
- A photo opportunity and lunch with the Governor was used as a "carrot" to attract exhibitors (Council donated a special marquee for this exercise).
The entertainment aspect of the Show is continually reviewed to ensure the Show continues to meet community needs and presents a changing variety of activities.
Where feasible the Society stages activities that link to the Royal Melbourne Show.
The Society seeks to balance its program in terms of activities and times. In the past they have presented too many conflicting activities.
The Society has experienced some difficulties with the "Sideshow Alley/Carnival" activity. The participation of the Showmen’s Guild has influenced the diversity of this activity. The utilisation of trade space is also recognised as an area that can still be improved.The Society has adopted an approach of "don’t use space/lose it" to address these issues.
However the Society follows a policy of valuing its exhibitors and does what it can to satisfy them.
As the Wonthaggi District attracts significant tourism during the period the Show is conducted, little is known of the origin of attendees.The Society is considering using local secondary students to survey (by questionnaire) attendees as to their postcode, which will help marketing of the Show in future.
The Wonthaggi & District Agricultural Pastoral and Horticultural Society Inc. has demonstrated its capacity to engage the interest and support of the community within the region. Being ready to institute change based on rigorous evaluation of performance is one way in which it has carved out its unique place in community life. Constantly renewing the composition of the General Committee and strengthening it by including members representative of community groups is another way in which it has generated new ideas designed to offer contemporary attractions.
The future for the Bass Coast Agricultural Show looks bright with every chance that it will continue to win the support of the people of Wonthaggi, Central and Southern Gippsland.
Proudly supported by the Victorian Agricultural Societies Association