By ERWIN CHLANDA
“It was the fastest COVID plan ever. It happened in one day. We went right to the top.”
The monkey on her back.
This is how Elwyn Bell describes the lead-up to the two-day “fun fair” ending yesterday, replacing the annual Alice Springs Show whose COVID plan – two months in the making – was rejected by the NT Coronavirus authorities, without explanation, scuttling the 2021 fixture.
Mr Bell is the vice-president of the Australian Showmen’s Guild and the president of its Victorian division.
The guild hired the Blatherskite show grounds for Wednesday and Thursday this week, having set up for the show over some three weeks.
Mr Bell estimates 8000 to 10,000 people turned up, buying show bags and going on rides.
That crowd was about half of the usual show attendance.
Local activist Barbara Shaw and friends with funfair delicacies.
The fair was not aiming to compete with the show, says Mr Bell. It is a vital element of it: His grandfather helped Len Kittle to organise the show circuit for the NT.
It took “persistence and determination” to make the fair happen and “earn money to get us out of the jam, put fuel into the trucks and food in the belly”.
Mr Bell says he estimates the showmen convoy’s 150 people spent $200,000 in the town.
But the show must go on: “It brings the community together. It’s where you find a girlfriend, maybe even a wife.”
The next stops for the showmen: The Katherine and Darwin shows, and a funfair at Tennant Creek, where the show was also cancelled.
PHOTO at top: Showbags and fairy floss in buckets as thousands enjoy a funfair replacing the annual show scuttled by COVID officials.