THE Orange Showground could be home to a new multi-purpose pavilion in time for next year's show, now new terms of management have finally been agreed to by all parties.
Users of the showground hailed Friday as an emotional and historic day, when the Orange Show Society and Orange City Council members signed the management agreement in mayor John Davis's office.
The society and the Orange Showground Action Group fought for years to resist council’s attempts to scrap a deed of covenant, which outlined its responsibility over the showground, and replace it with a less onerous crown land trust agreement.
Both sides sought legal advice over the years, but in June finally agreed to end the stalemate, rescind the deed and establish a licence agreement instead.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee, councillor Ron Gander and several representatives of the action group paid tribute to the work of one of their members the late Terry Cleary.
His wife Sylvia, daughter and president of the Orange Showground Users Group Justeene and granddaughter Cara were all on hand to witness the end of the groups' battle to save the grounds.
Society president Peter Naylor said it had taken time to get all the groups' members to agree, but now was the first step to overhauling the showground.
Cr Davis said signing the agreement would allow the showground to be turned into something the city could be proud of.
"It's very exciting between now and Christmas to see how this baby grows," he said.
Council will contribute $500,000 towards the 80 by 40 metre pavilion for the north-west corner of the showground, near the main gate, and along with the show society will apply for grants to cover the rest of the cost.
Mr Gee said the agreement ended years of angst about the showground's future and put an end the years of controversy.
The action group's Veronica Ford thanked the group's former member now councillor Ron Gander for being a "bull terrier" fighting for the showground.
"It's a day we knew would eventually come," she said.
"It was always logical to maintain the showground where it was, it will cost less money because the infrastructure is there."
Mrs Cleary said it was sad her husband Terry was unable to see a resolution reached with the showground but rewarding so many people came on board to save it.
"He'd be so thrilled ... and I know a lot of people would be so thrilled," she said.
"They all wanted the same things, good drainage, some [amenity] blocks and maybe a grandstand."
Council will call for tenders for the construction of the pavilion by the end of the year.