Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

Assurances after viability questioned

Assurances after viability questioned

Organisers of Ashburton's A&P Show say that the association's financials are in good health and the future of the show is not in jeopardy, despite concerns about its viability.

Association board chairperson Richard Lemon said the association has declared a small profit from its full year’s business activities.

Lemon said the association's business was wider than just the show, and included hosting a variety of groups at the multi-use showgrounds.

The assurance comes after a club that uses the grounds questioned the viability of the show and its tenure at the showgrounds during the recent submission hearings on the council's long-term plan.

In its written submissions, the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union said its tenure at the grounds was "unstable" due to the financial viability of the show.

The rugby club said last year's show ran at a $38,000 loss despite attracting record crowds.

But Lemon said the loss related to the "Covid show years".

Rugby union chairman Gerard Rushton spoke to his personal submission on Wednesday morning about his support for the extension of the EA Networks Centre.

Rugby was the largest sport in Mid Canterbury, and he called for equitable support from council across all sports.

Mid Canterbury was the only rugby union not to get council support, Rushton said.

Other unions across the country were paying between a nominal $1 up to $15,000 a year for grounds, stands and clubrooms while the Mid Canterbury club paid $80,000 a year to use the showgrounds.

"We even have to pay the council to mow the lawns," Rushton said.

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown asked what would happen to the showgrounds if the club moved to the EA Networks Centre.

In response Rushton suggested it would make little difference.

"It's not sustainable for long. That leaves us in a very tricky situation because we need to invest funds in a facility but need the confidence that the investment will be there for a longer term.

"That's why we were hoping there would be some support around that.”

Lemon said equestrian events from show jumping and dressage through to major pony club events took place at the showgrounds, all of which attracted competitors from around the country.

"In addition, we have dog obedience club training and shows on a very regular basis.

"The association also hosts tenants like the Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club, South Island Seeds and the Lions Club’s Motorhome Show."

Lemon said "planning was in full swing" and this year's show would definitely take place as usual on the weekend after Labour Day.

By Sharon Davis