Newcastle Show organisers are again at war with the Showmen's Guild, which has organised a rival event in Maitland on the show weekend.
The guild, whose members operate amusement rides at shows across the country, will stage the Hunter Valley Super Carnival at Maitland Showground over the next two weekends, clashing with Newcastle Show on March 5, 6 and 7.
The guild and Newcastle Agricultural Horticultural and Industrial Association are again locked in a bitter fight over how much ride operators will pay the association to rent space at Newcastle Show.
Individual guild members can set up at the show if the two parties do not agree on a price, but it is unclear how many would choose to do so.
Non-guild members can also operate at the show if it is declared a non-guild event.
The guild and show association have been at loggerheads on and off for years. They engaged in a public battle over the rental fee last year before reaching a deal three weeks before the show.
It is possible they could settle on a figure before next week's event, but the guild has upped the ante by organising the competing event with $2 entry.
The show is charging $30 for adults, $15 for children and $80 for a family of four.
The show association is still waiting for a $100,000 payment from Venues NSW and is facing an uncertain public response to this year's event after a year affected by COVID-19.
Daniel Wallace, who is negotiating with the guild on the show's behalf, said "one sure way" to attract ride operators would be to offer them sites for free.
Showmen's Guild trustee Lew Osborne said on Tuesday that his members had suffered financially during the pandemic and many were on JobKeeper payments.
"We're in survival mode. A few of our members could go broke," he said.
"The show society hit us up with some unsustainable costs."
Many shows, including Canberra, Maitland and Cessnock, have cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, leaving showmen with no income opportunities.
The Newcastle Herald has been told the show association has asked the guild for $50,000 rent, $25,000 less than last year, but the guild has offered $35,000.
"I think our guys want to get together tonight for a minute or two to have a discussion on it," Mr Osborne said.
"If that happens, that happens.
"If not, it's not really an offer we can accommodate now because we've gone too far into our preparations.
"We're out to do two big weekends here [in Maitland]."
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