Royal Norfolk Show cancelled again for 2021 due to ongoing coronavirus concerns
- Credit: Archant
Next summer’s Royal Norfolk Show has been cancelled amid mounting coronavirus concerns – a decision deemed necessary to “ensure the long-term sustainable future” of its organising charity.
The county’s biggest summer spectacle, and the largest two-day county show in the UK, usually attracts around 85,000 visitors and contributes around £20m a year to Norfolk’s economy.
But having already lost this year’s event due to the coronavirus crisis, organisers at the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) said the 2021 event has now also been cancelled to limit financial risks “as a consequence of the continued uncertainty around hosting large scale events during the ongoing global pandemic”.
It follows a similar announcement by the Suffolk Show in September, that it had taken the early decision to cancel its event scheduled for May 2021.
Greg Smith, chief executive of the RNAA, said: “This has been an extremely difficult decision for the trustees and our executive team to make, but to ensure the long-term sustainable future of the organisation we believe this is the right thing to do.
“The Royal Norfolk Show is the county’s biggest event of the year, attracting over 85,000 people over two days. To deliver a show of this scale and complexity takes a significant amount of planning and preparation by all involved. To reduce uncertainty and risk we believe this is the right decision to take now.”
RNAA chairman Rob Alston added: “Of course, we recognise just how disappointing this will be for so many people but 2020 has had a serious impact on the organisation from which we must recover. Our priorities have to focus on ensuring we are in a strong financial position to support our charitable objectives and then return with a show to mark our 175th anniversary in June 2022.
“Over the course of 2021 we will be putting on smaller events and activities, when and where possible. We also look forward to seeing the Norfolk Showground continue to flourish as one of our region’s major event venues. In the meantime, our trustees and team are very grateful to all our stakeholders for their understanding and support.”
Last month, the RNAA warned members at its online annual meeting that the charity faced a “long and hard road to recovery” after the economic damage of the coronavirus lockdown.
After announcing the cancellation of the 2020 show, Mr Smith said the widespread loss of agricultural shows and country fairs this summer would have an “inestimable effect” on the rural economy – from the livestock exhibitors to the hundreds of small, independent food and drinks producers who rely on these events to promote and sell their produce.
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Rural business leaders said the second consecutive cancellation of Norfolk’s annual countryside showcase would be difficult to bear – but the decision was “totally understandable” with no end in sight to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Nick Sandford, acting regional director for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA East), said: “It is extremely sad to hear that the Royal Norfolk Show is not to take place next year due to the ongoing challenges of Covid-19. With the current uncertainty of the pandemic the decision is totally understandable as public safety must come first.
“The show will be sorely missed in 2021 as it is a summer highlight but the agricultural industry is extremely resilient and often at its strongest when faced with adversity. I have every confidence it will be back with a bang in 2022 – and what a special occasion that will be.”
John Newton, Norfolk county adviser for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), said: “When this year’s Royal Norfolk Show was cancelled, I don’t think many of us expected the 2021 show to go the same way. However, in the current situation with Covid-19 it’s not surprising that this decision has been taken.
“It’s very sad news for everyone involved. The show is such an important occasion in the agricultural and county calendar. It showcases the very best of Norfolk’s food and farming, brings the rural community together and makes a significant contribution to the rural economy as well.”