THE Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama is a big event with many facets and even when everything is going smoothly the final days in the lead-up are hectic and undoubtedly stressful for the organisers.
This year the committee has been applauded for its brave determination to push ahead with plans regardless of the possibility there may be a last-minute cancellation.
While one South West show has already been cancelled for 2021, the Woolorama committee has worked through the huge amount of extra preparation to get State health department approval.
Show secretary Amy Kippin says they will continue to work with the department to meet all requirements to ensure Woolorama is a COVID-safe event and plans submitted so far are a living document that can change and be modified right up to and even during the show if necessary.
To devise the plan the society engaged Event Health Management, a company that has had considerable experience and has written plans for most of the big events run in Western Australia since the outbreak.
The plan was submitted to the local shire and as an event with attendance of more than 500, it was automatically deemed high-risk and escalated for further assessment by the health department.
It has been reviewed again in response to the snap lockdown in February and the committee will continue to work with the department to ensure safety as its first priority for Woolorama visitors.
The group has received support from the WA Showmen's Association and the Royal Agricultural Society with the society supplying Woolorama's
10-member COVID marshall team, sanitation stations, sanitiser and support on how to manage entries and exits and crowd movement.
Ms Kippin said the benefit of having the team of COVID marshalls travelling from Perth was that they were all trained and experienced and they would provide feedback and trouble shoot over the grounds during the weekend.
"We are confident we have identified everything of concern but there may be something that pops up that's a bit different,'' Ms Kippin said.
"The Stanthorpe show in Queensland in late January was the first big COVID-safe show to be held in Australia since the lockdown and they posted videos that have been distributed to ag societies to see what a COVID-safe show looks like and that has been a good resource as well."
Woolorama had done everything to reduce risk and was asking exhibitors and patrons to play their part as well.
Ms Kippin's message to patrons is:
- If you have been unwell in the previous 14 days then please stay away.
- Pre-purchase gate entry tickets from the Woolorama website.
- Bring correct cash and be prepared for trade fair stall holders to only accept Eftpos.
- Be prepared to scan the SafeWA QR code or fill out the COVID register.
As part of its extra preparations the society plans to have QR code signs 40-50 metres before the gate and an express lane for people to scan in their pre-purchased tickets.
The showgrounds will be under one QR code and people setting up for the event in the week before will need to scan the QR code every day that they enter the grounds.
The society has an army of volunteers and community groups that have been prepared and trained to ensure patrons' safety and adherence to the protocols.
"Our big message to visitors is preferably to pre-purchase tickets - alternatively have the correct $20 note for the cash entry price at the gate - we will not be handing out change, or thirdly, use an Eftpos machine at the gate," she said.
Trade stallholders are required to have their own COVID-safe plans for how they will manage their staff and customers within their site.
They also have been encouraged to use tap-n-go Eftpos for payment but if they take cash, they are required to have a plan in place for how they will deal with it to keep everyone safe.
They also need a plan for how they will adhere to physical distancing between their staff and customers.
"We won't be asking every stallholder for their COVID plan, we are just asking they have that in place and the majority do already," Ms Kippin said.
Gate entry tickets, rodeo tickets and camping passes can be pre-purchased through the Woolorama website from mid-February.
The society is using ticket provider Megatik, the preferred supplier for the RAS and competitors, trade exhibitors, sponsors and visitors who pre-purchase tickets will receive a 100 per cent refund should the show be cancelled due to COVID.
One bright bit of news is that CBH is again sponsoring free entry for school age children.