A scene from the ring at a past Bushman’s Carnival rodeo.
A scene from the ring at a past Bushman’s Carnival rodeo.

Date shift may be end of era

WHILE confusion over Labour Day dominates discussions in workplaces this week, the change of date from May to October may mark the end for Widgee's Bushman's Carnival rodeo.

Held at the Widgee showgrounds on Labour Day for more than five decades, the Bushman's Carnival has been a stop on the professional rodeo circuit, attracting some big names to the region.

With no alternative date available before the season's end on the National Rodeo Association's calendar, organisers had no choice but to cancel this year's event at Widgee.

It's a major disappointment for organisers, competitors and spectators.

Rodeo co-ordinator Barry Dyer said shifting the date was a big financial risk and a decision would need to be carefully thought out.

"We can't just move it to any weekend - every weekend in the rodeo circuit is taken up," he said.

The change to the Labour Day holiday could spell the end of the long-running Widgee Bushman's Carnival rodeo.

With no alternative date available on the professional rodeo circuit, organisers are planning to decide whether or not moving the rodeo to another weekend can be done.

The weekend before the former Labour Day is out of the question, with cash prizes offered up at the Goondiwindi Show bull ride on Saturday and the Dayboro Show rodeo's all-round competition on Sunday.

"Normally the competitors would follow through to Widgee after Dayboro," Mr Dyer said.

"The change of date could mean the end of an era. Hopefully no, but it is certainly the end of having a Labour Day rodeo at Widgee."

The Widgee Bushman's Carnival is believed to have begun in the 1940s to raise money for the Soldier's Welfare Fund. While locals' knowledge of the event's history is a bit hazy, it is understood the carnival was originally held on private properties at Widgee and Woolooga before it found its home at Widgee Showgrounds in the '60s.

"This is a major disappointment. The rodeo raised money for the community and the upkeep of the showgrounds," Mr Dyer said, adding that rodeos, by and large, were finding it tough financially coping with increases in insurance costs.

"It's hard to keep justifying ticket price increases required to ensure the event is viable," he said.

The Bushman's Carnival Campdraft will go ahead at the weekend with novelty events, normally held during the rodeo, to be held in another arena on Sunday.