February 20, 2017
It was a fresh take on a beloved classic when the iconic Maitland Show returned over the weekend.
For the first time in years, the show returned to its agricultural roots while thousands of people sat beneath the spectacular awning of the restored grandstand.
Show co-ordinator Bronwyn Bell said final headcounts were forthcoming, but crowd numbers looked to be on par with 2016’s successul event.
“I think it shows the community is eager to get back to basics,” she said.
“We’ve focused on education, the paddock to plate, free attractions and the beautifully renovated grandstand.”
But that doesn’t mean the show steered away from modern events. The D-Max stun driving team had the audience on the edge of their seats while carnival rides and bucking bulls at the rodeo had adrenaline junkies hanging on for dear life. And, as the sun went down, sideshow alley, the ferris wheel and fireworks lit the sky with colour.
Ms Bell said cooler weather made for some challenges and smaller crowds on Friday night, but Sunday was one of the busiest in years. And it wouldn’t be Maitland Show without the traditional bad weather.
“The date of the show was changed to October to avoid the rain once, and it still rained,” Ms Bell said with a laugh. “I think it’s just a local curse.
“But we were supporting the paddock to plate initiative this year and the farmers were delighted to see the rain. So there’s a positive side to it.”
The 2017 Show also marked the first major function for the newly restored grandstand. The heritage-listed, century old building has housed its fair share of show patrons, but fell into disrepair in recent years.
Since early last year work has been underway to restore the structure’s leaking roof, peeling paint, and rotting wood. Ms Bell said she was ecstatic to have the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Catherine Cusack, Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison, Federal Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson and deputy mayor Ken Wethered officially welcome the community back to its revered seats.