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SHOW HOLIDAY: It’s time to speak up Newcastle, before it’s gone forever.

Have you ever lost something that you loved as a child?

It happens sometimes, either as we get older and distracted by shinier things, or while we’re still small and sometimes careless.

I lost Jumblio at Newcastle Races when I was about five years old. He was a toy bear, the kind with a hard rubber face and soft body. He was my aunt’s when she was a little girl and my mum would often sew coloured cloth onto his chest so he could wear different clothes like I did. But I was careless that day and I left him behind. I cried for days, hating myself for leaving him, imagining him lost and afraid in the dark. I cried for him and I cried for what I had done, or what I had failed to do – take care of what was important to me.

I never got Jumblio back and I learned an important lesson that day about protecting what we love, especially the things that remind of us of when we were young, back before life got in the way.

[x_pullquote type=”left”]It’s time to speak up Newcastle, before it’s gone forever.[/x_pullquote]I read in the paper this week that the Newcastle Show, like my Jumblio, was in danger of being lost forever. The report said that if the Newcastle business community didn’t get behind it, then 2017 would be the final year of eating fairy floss, playing the clowns, and looking down from atop the brightly lit Ferris Wheel.
Last year we took my nephew to The Show for the first time. He’s four. I don’t have any children so seeing The Show again through the eyes of a child was an incredible experience. How big and bright everything was, how loud and exciting. When I was a kid we used to go at night. There was something magical about the coloured lights of the rides whirring by and the smell of hot chips with tomato sauce and way too much salt. Remember the thrill of going into the show bag tent and the smell of the cow stalls? The screams of delight from teenagers holding hands on upside down rides and the booming voice of the announcer telling us what was coming up next in the centre ring?

I think the best thing about The Show though was the fact that we all went together. My grandparents, my mum and I. It was the same last year when we took my nephew. His grandparents, his mum, his uncle and I, we all went together. While we were there it struck me that The Show is probably one of the only remaining events that every year allows three generations of family, or more, to come together and go out. There’s just something innocent about The Show, something that appeals to our children but also to the child within us because it lets us remember ourselves when we were small.[x_pullquote type=”right”]You don’t need analytics to measure the value of family and you can’t put a price on placing down the phone[/x_pullquote]

Last year, a small percentage of local businesses, 57 out of 384 according to Newcastle City Council, said that continuing The Show Holiday was not cost effective and so the day was cancelled. Now there is also reluctance from local business to financially support the event because attendance has been down the past few years.

But here’s the thing…

In this day and age when people would rather stare at a computer screen than out the window, when we feel more comfortable ‘liking’ someone’s post than actually calling them, and dinner is spent in silence because everyone is looking at their phone, what is the value of an event that brings three generations of family together? How many likes should that get? How many click throughs? What’s the value of that kind of social engagement?

As far as I’m concerned, you don’t need analytics to measure the value of family and you can’t put a price on placing down the phone, especially when it’s your hand a child reaches for instead of their device.

But the responsibility to make sure we give this experience to our kids is also in our hands. Now that we’re all grown up and understand that time is fleeting, that money and material possessions are not the only things that hold value, we need to use some of our carefully learned business skills to do the math.

[x_pullquote type=”left”]Let’s save our Newcastle Show.[/x_pullquote]These days many of our businesses and companies operate well outside the traditional nine to five trading hours. We work weekends, we work after hours, we work from home, sometimes until bedtime. The Show Holiday was one day out of the year and it encouraged people to spend the day at The Show with their family. It was one day that allowed owners and managers to demonstrate in real time that they cared about people over profit, that the community mattered, that their employees were lucky to work for someone who understood the value of their family, as well as the work they put in.

The Show is an important part of Newcastle’s heritage. I could go on and tell you all about the date it began and the chronological history of the event, of the politics and handovers but that’s not what this is about and not what we should be worried about. Yes, history is important, but what I’m talking about is the future. I’m talking about a fast approaching future where we no longer come together and go out as a family, where we no longer feel the rush of a ride unless its through a virtual reality headset, or have the joy of watching our kids stare up at a real-life Ferris Wheel towering over a brightly lit carnival.

Stop and think for a minute. Let yourself be taken back to when you were a kid. Do you remember how exciting it was? For those of us who run a business, ask yourself – is the cost of one day’s pay worth more than a child being able to cherish that memory for their entire life?

We’re not kids anymore. We have the chance to make a difference. We have our own voice and so many platforms to share it. Most importantly, we have the chance to save ourselves from experiencing a great loss.

[x_pullquote type=”right”]Ask yourself – is the cost of one day’s pay worth more than a child being able to cherish that memory for their entire life?[/x_pullquote]If I could have had the foresight as a child to know the feeling of guilt I would carry for the loss of my childhood pal Jumblio, I would have done everything in my power to stay focused, to hang onto his little material hand as tightly as I could. Then I could have held him as an adult and been taken back to my childhood, I could have shared him with my children if I am ever fortunate enough to become a mother. But I can’t, because I let him slip away while I was too busy focusing on other things – things so insignificant that thinking back I can’t even remember what they were.

Right now, as a community, we have a chance save something precious for the ones we love. We want keep our Newcastle Show and we want Show Day back to celebrate this iconic event.

It’s time to speak up Newcastle, before it’s gone forever.

Together, we can do this. Let’s save our Newcastle Show.

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