Bellingen Show Dairy Cattle Pavilion rebuild

ROOF REPAIR: Paul Hoschke (Showground Trust president), Alan Peterson (Chief Cattle Steward), Ted Greenwood (Show Society president) and Andrew Sommerville (Bellingen Show Society)
ROOF REPAIR: Paul Hoschke (Showground Trust president), Alan Peterson (Chief Cattle Steward), Ted Greenwood (Show Society president) and Andrew Sommerville (Bellingen Show Society)

Dairy cows and their attendants will be moooving into a renovated pavilion for this year's Bellingen Agricultural Show, courtesy of a $49,150 grant from the state government's Community Building Partnerships Fund.

The major rebuild, which will preserve the charming rustic exterior of the Dairy Cattle Pavilion, involves bracing the whole structure and installing a new roof.

Those who frequent the building will be glad to see that the scillion roof on the eastern side has new posts, raising it above head height.

"The building will look exactly the same, except the scillion roof is higher and has a slightly steeper angle," Showground Trust President Paul Hoschke said. "It's still the same cattle shed, it's just more practical."

Chief Cattle Steward Alan Peterson and Andrew Somerville, who put together the funding application, said their aim was to rebuild the existing pavilion so it could survive another 100 years and to ensure sure cattle could be shown in the best possible conditions.

Previously, with a roof that tended to leak when it rained, many hours of careful grooming by handlers could be undone in an instant.

"They blowdry the cows and polish their nails, but the roof was in such poor condition that rain would come in and go all over them. They weren't happy and neither were the cows," Paul said.

Despite this inconvenience, Chief Cattle Steward Alan Peterson noted that the cattle section has grown enormously in popularity and now extends over three days instead of just one, with junior judging on Friday, dairy on Saturday and beef on Sunday.

Half a dozen schools send entries for the junior judging section, including Bellingen High (last year's winners), Dorrigo, Macksville, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and even Kincumber from the Central Coast.

The inclusion of Kincumber High is explained by the fact that Bellingen High's enthusiastic Ag teacher Stephen Boyd taught there before coming here in 2017.

"Last year we had 115 kids in the competitions we run," Alan said. "The kids sleep out here on the grass with their swags - you can't leave your cattle.

"Not all stay, but a majority of them do. They enjoy the nights that they're here."

The school students mostly enter beef cattle, with only about 20 of them doing dairy.

"Nearly all our dairy people come from Dorrigo," Alan said. "There's dairies down here, but none of them show."

Work on the project to upgrade the dairy cattle pavilion is well underway and will be completed in time for the 2019 Show, which will be held on Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26.

The dairy cattle pavilion before renovation work began

The dairy cattle pavilion before renovation work began