We begin a new month and new season hopeful that stage 4 COVID restrictions will end in the coming weeks and we can get back to the business of holding events for Victorians to enjoy with family and friends.
Normally around this time of year we would commence the build of the Royal Melbourne Show to bring Victorians together over 11 days to celebrate agriculture as part of Victoria’s largest and most iconic annual community event.
This is certainly no normal year and it’s the first time since the second world war (1940-45) that the Royal Melbourne Show will not be held.
We still plan to Celebrate the Show online from 19-29 September through our social and digital platforms featuring theme days, exhibitor profiles, videos, live farm cam, competitions, memorable moments from past Shows and much more. There will be further details in a special Show edition of RASV News later this month.
The master plan for Melbourne Showgrounds is progressing well and I am pleased to advise that the RASV have recently released the findings from the first phase of community and stakeholder consultation. I encourage you to read the report prepared by Capire Consulting Group which is now available for you to review on the Our Showgrounds, Our Future website.
Thank you to those of you who kindly contributed to the report by participating in workshops or completing the online survey. We received great insights and ideas for shaping Our Showgrounds, Our Future and I thank all of you who took the opportunity to provide valuable feedback and suggestions.
With the cancellation of the 2020 Royal Melbourne Show the COVID-19 testing facility remains open for the public to access at Melbourne Showgrounds. The COVID-19 testing facility at Melbourne Showgrounds has been credited as one of the best in Australia and since opening in June, more than 20,000 COVID tests have been completed on-site. At this stage the testing facility will remain operational until at least 31 October 2020.
Despite all the challenges with Stage 3 and Stage 4 COVID restrictions, I am pleased to confirm that the Australian Distilled Spirit Awards (ADSA) are still proceeding and we have received a record 620 entries, an increase of more than 80% on 2019. In a new innovation for 2020, judging will be conducted remotely from the homes of the 50 judges from around Australia on 13-14 October. Head Judge Sebastian Costello will lead a team of industry experts who will judge across two days and award up to 13 champion trophies including Whisky, Gin, Vodka, Brandy, Rum, Liqueur, Alternative Spirit, Aromatic and major awards for the Champion Micro Batch, Champion Small Batch Spirit and the coveted Champion Distiller. The winners will be announced on 12 November.
At this time of the year we usually start to prepare for the judging of Royal Melbourne Wine Awards (RMWA) however, after consulting with industry experts on our RMWA Committee we have regrettably made the decision to cancel judging this year. When considering the current global COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety along with the availability of judges and volunteers was at the forefront of this decision. In these challenging times, particularly with the current COVID restrictions, it is not possible to confidently ensure we could uphold the integrity of the Awards to the standard expected by the wine community.
The RASV’s Royal Melbourne Wine Awards are Australia’s most prestigious wine awards that have recognised and rewarded the best in Australian wine production since 1884. This year is the first time that the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy will not be awarded since it was established in 1962 and I thank the Watson family for their support and understanding.
Although disappointing for the wine industry and the RASV, ensuring the health and safety of all involved including the judges, stewards, exhibitors and staff was paramount in making this decision. I thank Samantha Isherwood, Committee Chair and Matt Harrop, Chair of Judges along with Tom Carson, Melanie Chester and Mark O’Callaghan for their counsel and support in making this decision.
We are continuing to strengthen our “Melbourne Royal” competitions and awards by attracting highly skilled and experienced people to join our Committees and Advisory Groups. I am pleased to congratulate Michael Holmes on being appointed Chair of the Poultry Committee and welcome Jeni Port and Emma Brown as members of the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards Committee and Maddy (Madelayne) Bissels as a member of the Alpaca Competition Committee.
I am pleased to advise that the all new RASV Hoof and Hook Competition is proceeding with the judging of the “hoof” section on Saturday 26 September at the Yea Saleyards and judging will be live streamed.
On behalf of everyone at the RASV I want to thank and acknowledge Jack Rae OAM, who at the young age of 93 has retired from the RASV Heritage Committee. Jack has made an incredible contribution to the RASV and the Royal Melbourne Show serving as a volunteer on a number of committees over many decades and we have valued and appreciated his dedication, involvement and counsel. Jack may have retired but we look forward to seeing him at future RASV events including the 2021 Royal Melbourne Show. You can read more about Jack’s wonderful contribution here.
In another first for the RASV, the 2020 RASV Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held online on Tuesday 29 September to ensure health and safety of our members. Notice of the AGM has been sent out to all RASV “Voting Members” inclusive of details of how to register to attend the AGM online. Should you have any queries regarding the AGM please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org
In closing, these are extraordinary times and the Board, management and staff at the RASV are most grateful for your ongoing support and encouragement.
I trust you will enjoy reading the latest news from the RASV and I look forward to keeping you well informed. In the meantime, take care and please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries.
Chief Executive Officer