Aylsham Show goes on despite foot-and-mouth

RICHARD BATSON Organisers of the Aylsham Show say the big bank holiday event will happen despite the national foot-and-mouth outbreak.But a decision will be taken later this week about whether livestock will be appearing.

RICHARD BATSON

Organisers of Aylsham Show say the bank holiday event will happen despite the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Surrey.

But a decision will be taken later this week about whether livestock will be appearing.

About 400 cattle, sheep and goats normally attend the established event, held at Blickling Park on August bank holiday Monday.

With less than two weeks to go, secretary Chris Self emphasised last night: "The Aylsham Show is on, but we have a meeting on Thursday to decide what to do if the livestock movement restrictions are not lifted."

If the ban was still in place there would be no livestock at the show for the first time in its 61 years. But there would be horses, and organisers would aim to fill the gaps with other attractions.

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Mr Self urged people to attend the show whatever happened because it had plenty to offer, including a new food and farming marquee.

In 2001 the show was cancelled entirely during the national foot-and-mouth scare, but this year organisers are determined it will go on.

Mr Self said he was was quite confident the restrictions would be lifted by their Thursday decision day - a deadline chosen because of the need to notify exhibitors and judges and to enable showground marking out to begin on Sunday.

Head cattle steward Roger Long was less hopeful, believing farm-to-farm movements would only be allowed after September 1 because of the 21-day incubation period since the last case.

"We have not yet cancelled the cattle, because Defra on Saturday told us that would be too hasty," he added. But he said there were mixed messages coming out of the department. When he rang up Defra as a regional NFU delegate, lobbying for restrictions to be lifted to help pig producers, he got nowhere.

Livestock farmers from all over East Anglia attend Aylsham Show. And every year thousands of people flock to what is the biggest one-day agricultural event in the country to enjoy the enter-tainment and celebrate the countryside.

The show is also a major fundraiser for local charities, both through having stands at the event and receiving the show proceeds, which are handed out afterwards. Last year a record £40,000 was split among 40 causes.

Aylsham Show is on Monday, August 27. Gates open at 8am, with main ring attractions starting at noon with chariot racing. Tickets are £10, with accom-panied children under 16 and parking free. Website: www.aylshamshow.co.uk

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