Newcastle Show: The dawn of a new era

For over 120 years, the Newcastle Show has been a staple in the hearts of locals and visitors from far and wide. Now, a team of passionate volunteers is taking the much-loved event back to its agricultural roots.

Recently appointed as CEO of the Newcastle Show, Catherine Blanch has bold plans for the upcoming three-day extravaganza. Proudly presented by headline sponsor Montgomery Homes, it will be held from 1 – 3 March 2024.

“We’re proud to be returning the show to its agricultural and horticultural grassroots, to its roots as a community-based event,” Catherine says passionately.

“We want to give back to the community, to the small independent clubs. We have reached out to the wood turners and the model train association. You will see fashion parades from Maitland’s Museum of Clothing and the team from Tocal Homestead will bring their displays. The art cafe in the hall of industry will be a hub of creativity, hosting performances of bush poetry and acoustic musicians.

“We have expanded our art program and have introduced a dedicated jewellery making competition. We are working with the CWA and, for the first time in many years, the New South Wales mounted police will be performing at the show.”

There will be blacksmiths and whip crackers, line dancing and country music. The Outback Experience is poised to be a highlight, transporting audiences into the rich history of the Australian Outback. It’s a program packed to the rafters, with literally something for everybody.

But above all, Catherine, and the high-profile board want to inspire the next generation and to instil a sense of the importance of tradition and heritage.

“We want to help children to dream outside the box and to send a message to the public that you don’t have to be born in the country to run a cattle farm, to tend to a vineyard or to brew a beer,” she explains.

“These are all opportunities you can have here in our urban agricultural environment. We are looking to all our backyard farmers, to those growing fresh herbs on their windowsills and children harvesting their first vegetables, whether it’s in a pot, a boot or a bucket.

“We want to inspire our children and to show them exactly where food comes from and how wonderful it can taste and how much fun it can be to grow.”

There will be all the traditional competitions that are so integral to a regional show, but Catherine promises they will be just as relevant to people in a city environment.

“We also recognise that Sideshow Alley, as it was traditionally known, has been integral to the success of the Show over the years,” she adds.

“You will see an increase in the quality and appeal of our amusement rides.

“But with everything else setting such an exciting new benchmark of excellence, the focus is shifting a little bit away from this part of the show.

“Nevertheless, children coming to the grounds and seeing the Ferris wheel, eating the fairy floss, putting balls in the clowns and hitting the dodgem cars will all remain favourites.

” So, aside from creating precious memories, what is Catherine’s hope for the Show’s future?

“We need young people coming through to ensure that the heritage and the tradition that we have now and have had for over a century continues for another hundred years.”

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