A DECISION on whether this year's Horsham Show will go ahead is yet to be made, but the excitement has already begun.
A Virtual Horsham Show will run from now to the four months leading up to show day, September 27.
Horsham Agricultural Society executive administrator Andrea Cross said she had been watching as regional shows across the country cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then scrambled to supply an alternative.
She wanted to make sure Horsham showgoers stayed connected, no matter what.
"I thought, 'let's offer a solution before an issue arises," she said.
The virtual show started on May 1 and will offer Facebook challenges, online competitions, a market, webinars and even showbags.
Mrs Cross said the idea for the virtual show began blossoming while filming a video of farm animals for children on the show's Facebook page.
"I thought 'how can we have a virtual show, and what does that look like?'" she said.
"Then I got really excited."
She approached a friend with digital experience, who told her he had been working on a virtual show website just a day earlier.
"He said, 'this is perfect'," she said. "It started from that."
Other collaborations also began with the Horsham Youth Council and the Art is.... festival committee.
Mrs Cross said she watched closely as shows elsewhere were cancelled.
She was disappointed when the Royal Melbourne Show, Adelaide Royal, Brisbane Ekka and Sydney Royal Easter Show were all scrapped without any replacement offered.
When the Cohuna Show committee started running a Facebook competition in lieu of its show, Mrs Cross toyed with the idea and changed it to suit a Wimmera audience.
The Horsham Show's Facebook page will now run 30 challenges, repeating monthly in the lead-up to the show. Challenges include posting pictures of a farm dog, a finished jigsaw, and a tidy pantry.
Regular show competitions are also going ahead, albeit in a new format.
Mrs Cross said people could submit photos of their entries via the Horsham Show website.
She said kitchen competitions included decorated Marie biscuit, shearers' morning tea tray, and high tea for two on a tray.
There are also craft, garden, art and photography, and LEGO competitions.
Mrs Cross said there were so far nearly 50 entries. She said the winner of each competition would receive $10.
"We've been fortunate to have had a couple of sponsors come on board," she said.
Judges will determine the winners once the competition closes on September 19, the day before show week starts.
"We'll be going through all the photos to choose a winner - if social distancing is still going on we'll email them to judges," Mrs Cross said.
A separate competition is sponsored by Showbag Warehouse and will see one person win showbags worth $100 at next year's event.
In the lead-up to September, the Art is... and Horsham Show committees will join forces to present three workshops via webinars: how to make a rag rug; how to illustrate a children's book; and the art writing poetry.
Mrs Cross said during show week - September 20-27 - the Horsham Youth Council would run TikTok dance challenges, along with singing, acting and poetry ones.
She hopes the inclusion will bring a new audience to the show.
"It's either kids or adults at the show - for teens it's not cool anymore," she said.
On the Sunday, the society will announce the winners of online competitions on Facebook every 15 minutes from 10am to 10pm.
A virtual market will also run, and if restrictions are eased a virtual fleece show as well.
Mrs Cross said money had dried up due to the pandemic.
"I'm just hopeful when this all bounces back we will have some sponsors on board for next year," she said.
Mrs Cross said she was unsure if the 2020 Horsham Show would take place in its usual format at all.
The committee would decide after Monday, when the state of emergency ends.
"There's just so much to consider. There are border crossings, finances, sponsors, the age of volunteers...," Mrs Cross said.
"Even if the bans are lifted, it's still going to take time for businesses to recover.
"Our goal is to give the community something to look forward to."
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