Avalanche of rural event cancellations as SA locks down

SE Merino Field Day called off due to COVID-19 lockdown

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SA's latest lockdown has cleared the calendar of rural events planned for the coming week, including the South East Merino Field Day at Keith and the Hart Field Site Winter Walk.


As an essential service SA agriculture is set to carry on during the seven-day lockdown to contain the latest COVID-19 outbreak, but the state government's announcement has seen a string of rural events cancelled in the coming week.

One of the biggest events to fall is the South East Merino Field Days which was set for the Keith Showgrounds tomorrow (Wednesday).

SE Merino Breeders Association president Matt Fiebig said it was a "tough decision" to have to call off the state's largest annual Merino field day and prelude to many upcoming ram sales.

But he said the management committee had unanimously agreed on the decision on Monday evening after the announcement of stage 4 restrictions.

Thirty seven studs were set to showcase their genetics at the Keith Showgrounds with two more on-property displays.

Mr Fiebig said they made the call early to minimise the impact on participating studs travelling from as far afield as the Eyre Peninsula and Mid North.

"All the signs were suggesting if anything it would get worse rather than better," he said.

There were concerns that these breeders and their sheep could be stuck in the SE if the state entered lockdown in a similar way that Vic's snap lockdown caused chaos at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show in Bendigo last week.

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Another consideration according to Mr Fiebig was the health risk to Keith of bringing several hundred visitors from across the state into the town.

"It was a big decision, we had everything in place with the marquees up and all the sites marked out but we couldn't meet community expectations around health and safety regulations," he said.

"We also didn't have the required extra workers to count people in and out of the venue to ensure we abided by the one per 4 square metre rule in enclosed areas.

"Even if it was just SA visitors we would have had a pretty big crowd and we could only have a couple of hundred people there at once."

With Merino ram sales commencing next week Mr Fiebig said it would not be possible to reschedule the event. Organisers will now focus on 2022.

"We looked at the calendar and there are about 30 members who have ram sales between now and the end of August, if you take out weekends there is no day when a member does not have a sale," he said.

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The Advance Ag Conference to be held at the Adelaide Showgrounds on Friday has also been cancelled along with today's Hart Field-Site annual winter walk.

Hart Field-Site Group executive officer Sandy Kimber said the decision to postpone their event was made late Monday night, after the SA Premier's announcement.

"We were unable to make plans to hold the entire event outside because of the forecasted weather," she said.

"The restrictions put in place prior to the statewide lockdown meant the shed where we hold the event was down to just 27 people being allowed.

"We are making plans to reschedule but we will have to wait until the situation is bit clearer."

Bushfire class action meetings, originally scheduled for tonight in Lobethal and tomorrow in Yorketown have also been called off.

Law firm Maddens were set to provide an update on the progress of class actions against SA Power Networks pertaining to the Cudlee Creek fire in December 2019 and Yorketown fire in November 2019.

Other weekened events which are casualties of the lockdown, including the Adelaide Hills wine region's annual Winter Reds celebration, and the annual Willunga Almond Blossom Festival. Organisers of the Willunga event, first held in 1969, are planning to reschedule the event for November.

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