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Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

In what has come as a shock last minute decision for many, the Gunnedah Show Society issued an official statement earlier today saying that there would be no Rodeo held at the 2024 Gunnedah Show.

The 2024 Gunnedah Show is scheduled to run from 12-14 April and the Rodeo, which was to be held on Friday 12 April, is considered by many to be one of the highlights of the weekend.

There has been an outpouring of disappointment by many fans on social media via both the Gunnedah Show Society’s and the Australian Professional Rodeo Association’s Facebook pages.

In a statement issued this morning the Gunnedah Show Society said:

‘We regret to announce the cancellation of the rodeo events at the 2024 Gunnedah Show. We completely understand everyone’s disappointment.’

‘It wasn’t an easy decision for the committee to make and it wasn’t something we took lightly as we know how much people enjoy competing and attending. It has always been a much-loved event at our annual show.

‘We tried everything we could right up until the last possible moment to raise funds but were unable to match the high costs involved. Unfortunately, the costs of running a professional rodeo became too high for us to maintain.’

“We’re very sad that the event can’t go ahead this year,” said Kath Wilkinson, President of the Gunnedah Show Society.

When asked if she agreed with some of the theories being presented on social media as to other reasons behind the cancellation she said did not.

“No, not at all, and honestly I’m trying not to look at it as it’s too upsetting.”

“It really is all purely to do with funding, we just couldn’t get enough sponsorship money together and it would have been irresponsible of us to push ahead with the rodeo without the money.”

The Gunnedah Show Committee will meet again tonight to finalise the remaining plans for the Gunnedah Show, that will still proceed without the Rodeo.

A very different side of the story however comes from Rodeo organiser Shane Ezzey.

Mr Ezzey said that he and his fellow organiser, Cal Baker are gutted by the decision and the lack of communication from the show society. Both men also run a number of successful businesses in the region, and have input their own funds into planning the rodeo.

“The feedback we’ve had from competitors and the public is that the last four rodeos we’ve run have been the best the town has seen,” said Mr Ezzey.

“Not having a rodeo will ruin the show, and ruin Gunnedah, and it just has heartbroken so many people.”

“I’ve had that many disappointed and disbelieving phone calls since the cancellation was announced but the one that brought me to tears was a little 6-year-old cowboy who was crying down the phone to me because he couldn’t ride in front of his family at the show.”

When asked if he believed that sponsorship and funding, Mr Ezzey emphatically believes that the money for the rodeo is very much there.

“We know the money is there, and we’ve got $26,000 in funding coming, it’s done, it’s organised. Even APRA (Australian Professional Rodeo Association) are guaranteeing it.”

“The Show Society told us after the meeting last week that they didn’t have the money and that we’d missed the deadline to have our sponsorship funds their account. But I had already told them that I would happily foot the bill with money from my own business (SK Plumbing) until the other funds cleared,” said Mr Ezzey.

“We’ve told them that they’ll now need to return all sponsorship funds, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has been contacted so far to arrange this.”

“We just feel we’ve been pushed away, they’re too interested in other things like show jumping, even though the two events can easily run side by side.”

“The current committee has to go; they’re ruining the Show.”

Mr Ezzey also said he had contacted the mayor’s office to try and have the Society’s decision vetoed but had so far not had any response.

“There is so much money and expectation riding on this rodeo – I get that rodeos are expensive but these things don’t cost money, they make money, we cleared $23,000 off the last AgQuip Rodeo we held.”

“But I don’t do it for the money, I do it for the kids, the cowboys and the town. The whole rodeo community is one big family.”

When asked if he thought there was any chance of the rodeo going ahead at a later date, Mr Ezzey said he was willing.

“I can still restart the rodeo tomorrow if the society give the OK, but right now, even the AgQuip Rodeo is in question for later this year because the Show Society have a 100-year lease on the rodeo grounds, so if they say no, that’s it.”


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