The rides and sideshows at Mackay Show in the evening.
The rides and sideshows at Mackay Show in the evening. Stuart Quinn

New first-day opening time for Mackay show

MACKAY'S "three days of non-stop entertainment” may have to find a new slogan as the 140th annual Mackay Show slashes several hours out of its opening day.

Traditionally, the showgrounds gates swing open on Tuesday morning to welcome visitors eager to avoid the crowds associated with busier times.

This year the show won't open until 4pm Tuesday. And with rides and activities packing up shop by 4pm on People's Day - Thursday, June 20- this leaves only one full day of show activities.

Mackay Show Association secretary manager Steve Gavioli said the show committee had decided to postpone the gate opening time to coincide with the start-up of Sideshow Alley rides at 4pm.

With the Showmens Guild of Australasia starting the rides at 4pm, Mr Gavioli said the decision had been made to avoid any disappointment for Tuesday morning visitors.

"What happens is, on Tuesday people come in expecting everything to be operating for the show, and when it's not they come back and want a refund,” he said.

He said in previous years the long wait for the rides to open had frustrated some visitors.

"Last year it got to the stage where we were refunding tickets left right and centre during the morning because people weren't happy with everything not being open.

"It's so we don't get in the situation where we are disappointing so many people”

Mr Gavioli said the main reason for the delay was that the Showmens Guild of Australasia wouldn't operate during the quieter Tuesday morning session.

"The main reason is the rides are so expensive to run when people aren't here to support them.” he said.

"The showmen use their own power, they have their own generators, and it's an expensive exercise to run that power when the rides aren't being used.”

Night shots of rides and sideshows at Mackay show
The rides and sideshows at Mackay Show early in the evening. Stuart Quinn

Showmens Guild of Australasia committee member Luke Hennessy said the Tuesday morning session simply didn't draw large enough crowds for the rides to be viable.

Mr Hennessy said larger rides like The Beast - a goliath 25m tall structure with a 45m swing - required huge amounts of power to run. Without a bigger crowd the price of electricity would be impossible for operators to make a profit.

"It's a huge expense, especially if they're sitting there not being operated,” he said.

Promising everything would be up and running by opening time, Mr Hennessy said the show's atmosphere would be improved by the delayed opening.

"The moment the gates are opened everyone will get the full show, rather than a half show.”

"The atmosphere will be exciting and different to what people are used to.”

Despite a shorter show, Mr Hennessy said he did not expect people would have to wait longer for rides.

He said many of the rides were used to handling larger festivals, like the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and they were unlikely to hit capacity in Mackay.

With more than 30,000 people expected through the gates this year, the loss of the opening day sessions will likely be felt most by those hoping for a quieter visit to the show.

Traditionally the morning session has been a favourite for young families and older people using the quieter session to enjoy the show.

On the Mackay Show Precinct Facebook page and the Mackay Show event people have voiced their disappointment about the changed times.

On the event's page Kylie Burow wrote that older residents and people with special needs would be disadvantaged by the changes,

"It is so sad that our aged and special needs members of the community are unable to attend this yearly event on the Tuesday morning as they have in the past.”

"This was a time without the busy crowds that allowed these people an enjoyable experience at a community event that allowed them to feel special and included,” Ms Burow wrote.

"A lot of these people grew up in this area and going to the show was a part of their lives that hold so many memories for them and their families.

"To see their faces light up and to hear them reminisce about memories they thought they had forgotten was priceless. Such a shame.”

Other Facebook comments on the page complained that the delayed opening "wasted” a day of the show, which advertises itself as "three days of non-stop entertainment”.

But Mr Gavioli said no one would be disadvantaged by the changes.

"Those people who like to go around the show with less of a crowd, they can come along on Wednesday and it will be the same as the Tuesday. There won't be any difference.”

He said the show had contacted nursing homes and those who might need assistance getting around the show, warning them of the changes.

Despite the reduced hours, Mr Gavioli confirmed there would be no changes to the vendor's site rental fees.

He said the price was based on the number of patrons expected at the show, rather than the length of time the vendor was on the grounds.