Gates remain shut

THE Cohuna Show has been cancelled amid the rapidly-evolving coronavirus crisis grappling the world.

Determination to ensure Australia's health system is not overwhelmed has prompted the nation's medical experts and governments to promote drastic measures to keep the spread of COVID-19 cases to a manageable level.

The threat of having no insurance coverage should someone contract COVID-19 at the show and a list of onerous requirements deemed necessary to run the event left the Cohuna Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Show committee with no choice but to call off the event.

The decision was made at a 10am meeting on Saturday, arranged by show president Graeme Peace the night before.

Mr Peace said Victorian Agricultural Shows Association's (VASA) head office in Melbourne sent a list of steps it advised organisers to take for the show to proceed.

They included required numbers of hand sanitiser and hand wipe stations throughout the showgrounds, with Mr Peace explaining the challenges presented and the potential ramifications of not being able to implement the advised measures.

He said not only would it be difficult to staff enough sanitation stations, but that the recent run on supermarket stocks would make it challenging to source enough sanitation products.

"They sent these criteria which you have to do and if you can't meet them then the insurance comes into play, which is through VASA as well," Mr Peace said.

"Insurance is one of the big ones (and) if someone comes and gets it (COVID-19) at the show, you've got to be able to prove they didn't get it at the show if they said they did."

He noted the perceived risk of something going wrong due to the nature of the event, highlighting an area of concern that could potentially spread COVID-19.

Mr Peace said there was a risk of spreading the virus "particularly with the show (staff and customers) handling a lot of money".

The show president outlined what transpired at the urgent Saturday meeting.

"We (the committee) all sat down and talked about it (the situation) and had another phone link up with Rod Bowles (of VASA Bendigo) and he just highlighted it would be bloody hard to run," Mr Peace said.

"We hopefully would have got a lot more than 500 people there, so it became (a case of) too many obstacles in front of us to risk running it, which is totally disappointing I can assure you.

"There are a lot of people who put a lot of hours in already to make it (a success)."

Show organisers had gone all out this year to make the event bigger and better, with the planned addition of camel rides, lego building competitions and a farm craft section.

The event's social media manager spoke with enthusiasm on Friday of the online presence the Cohuna Show now has and people's ability to easily plan their days there and find event results.

Information was conveniently available on the Show's website and through the use of hashtag #cohunashow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

All that effort has now, unfortunately, gone to waste.

Passionate Cohuna Show advocate Kirstin Nicholson, who wrote a book on the event's history, said it is only the third time the show has ever been cancelled in its 109-year history.

The other two occasions were in 1916, when it was surprisingly floods rather than World War I that put a halt to it, and 1942, that time due to World War II.