Gympie mayor Mick Curran with Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe at the official opening of the Vern Berry Building at the Kilkivan Showgrounds and Equestrian Centre on Saturday afternoon
(Photo: GRC)

December 17, 2019

Kilkivan’s long-awaited $2.06 million undercover equestrian centre was officially opened on Saturday at Kilkivan Showgrounds.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Gympie Mayor Mick Curran performed the ceremony as part of a tour through the region by the Minister.

A small crowd gathered to watch the ceremony and then enjoy the first event, a barrel-racing competition featuring local riders.

Mr Hinchliffe said the equestrian centre was made possible through a State Government allocation of $1.075 million from the 2017-19 Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program (LGGSP).

Gympie Regional Council covered the rest of the cost.

“The centre will serve the community for years, and the work on it created or supported almost 20 jobs,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“It’s exactly the type of project the LGGSP helps councils deliver.”

After the barrel racing, another small ceremony was held to officially name the main building within the complex as the “Vern Berry Building”.

Local councillor Hilary Smerdon lobbied for the name to recognise a well-known Kilkivan volunteer who died unexpectedly after a short illness earlier this year at the age of 60.

Cr Smerdon said Vern had spent most of his life in the area and was “a very committed, community-minded man”.

“Without his support a lot of the local community organisations would have folded,” Cr Smerdon said.

“He was involved in nearly every committee at the showgrounds over the years, and always went above and beyond what was expected.”

Cr Smerdon was asked to gather letters of support from the community for the proposal, and when these were presented, Council voted to adopt the name.

“He was a man who was the epitome of community spirit and who is sorely missed by the Kilkivan community,” Cr Smerdon said.

“Rest in peace, mate, you were a top bloke.”

Construction of the Equestrian Centre began in April this year, and it was originally due to be opened in September in conjunction with this year’s Kilkivan Great Horse Ride.

Cr Smerdon told he was happy the centre was now open and named, but it still needed “finishing off”.

He said yards, seating, a canteen and bar were really needed to complete the complex.

Related articles:

Bonnie Farrow, from the Kilkivan office of the Gympie Regional Council, with local councillor Hilary Smerdon at the official opening (Photo: Bruce Devereaux)
The large covered arena will host many different types of equestrian events (Photo: Bruce Devereaux)
Cr Hilary Smerdon, third from left, with members of the Berry family, Brandon, Lorelle, Morgan, Dee, Lyle, Rohan and Melissa at the naming ceremony after the official opening … Cr Smerdon lobbied for the building to be named in honour of the late Vern Berry (Photo: Facebook)
FLASHBACK: The late Vern Berry (at left) in 2013 ahead of that year’s Tom Quilty in Kilkivan … Vern was a well-known and respected member of the Kilkivan community (Photo: Kilkivan Quilty)
The large covered arena has been built in the Kilkivan Showgrounds (Photo: Bruce Devereaux)
The first official event in the new arena was an afternoon of barrel racing (Photo: Bruce Devereaux)
A small crowd gathered to watch the official opening ceremony (Photo: Bruce Devereaux)


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