The future of the showgrounds

09 Mar 2019 Bendigo Advertiser, Bendigo VIC (General News) by Tara Cosoleto THE Bendigo Showgrounds are set for an upgrade, with state and local government coming together to fund a master plan for development of the venue over the next 10 years. Victorian Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes announced the state government would a $50,000 grant towards the project. The City of Greater Bendigo would also contribute $25,000, as would the Bendigo Agricultural Show Society who manage the site. I like action so business plans are frustrating for politicians because we like to cut ribbons not plan things, Ms Symes said. But its important to make sure you have all of the stakeholders engaged. The process will set up a pipeline for the future of how to make sure this is a premier destination for Bendigo, she said. Getting the planning right is really important. The Bendigo venue is one of the largest showgrounds in regional Victoria. Over 600,000 people attend the grounds every year for events like the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo Agriculture Show, Groovin the Moo, and the Bendigo National Swap Meet. Bendigo Agricultural Show Society president Sharon Stemmer said next master plan would focus on building a new pavilion for arts and crafts, and to redo some of the landscaping. Having this funding so that we can move forward with upgrading the showgrounds is really important, she said. We have some huge events here now but we could also attract a lot more with this upgrade. The events are growing every year and if we had the extra facilities, we could also cater for a lot more here, not only for the showgrounds, but for Bendigo. Because everyone who comes here has to eat, sleep, fill their cars with petrol so the Bendigo economy gets an enormous amount out of what happens here. The societys chief executive said the master plan would address accessibility issues, but also focus on making the venue more environmentally friendly. This plan is going to be for the next 10-15 years, Ian Furze said. It will focus on things like improvement to the buildings and infrastructure, but it will also look at environmental impact. We are looking towards the capacity to be a bit more self-sufficient with our water storage, he said. Also making sure all the lighting is lower energy. Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the funding would allow the group to focus on the big picture. This is such a great asset for our community and such a great asset for Bendigo, she said. Its actually a no-brainer to invest in a facility like this that will bring even more people to our wonderful Bendigo, she said. We have such a healthy, growing and exciting community now. Theres been so much happening and we want to keep that momentum up. City of Greater Bendigo Council Deputy Mayor Rod Fyffe said they were delighted to contribute to the funding. It does set out a road map for the development of the facilities, he said. The community and wider region will be the beneficiaries. Its a terrific investment by the state government, by the show society, and by council itself, he said. We can offer that breadth of experience for people who want to put on events and people who want to come to events.