Royal Norfolk Show plans digital ‘legacy’ project after coronavirus cancellation

Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association chief executive Greg Smith says an "exciting and vibrant digi

Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association chief executive Greg Smith says an "exciting and vibrant digital network" is being developed alongside their Suffolk counterparts as his team looks ahead to next year's Royal Norfolk Show. Picture RNAA - Credit: RNAA

Following the shock of losing this year’s Royal Norfolk Show, plans are afoot to build an “exciting and vibrant digital network” as the event seeks to come back stronger in 2021 says GREG SMITH, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

The 2020 Royal Norfolk Show was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Ian Burt

The 2020 Royal Norfolk Show was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

It was all going so well. 2020 was going to be a great year – plans for the 168th Royal Norfolk Show were well in hand, our other events were looking good, we were to host the biannual Commonwealth Agriculture Conference and we had a packed calendar of events for the showground.

So, who would have expected this? It is indulgent to reflect on the past two months as we have responded to the crisis, adjusted our organisation to cope with lockdown conditions and reshaped our plans.

Suffice to say that we have been overwhelmed with the many offers of help and generosity that have come to us from across the region – thank you.

So what next? Over the past two centuries or so, agricultural shows have suffered the shocks of war, economic decline, biosecurity scares and, occasionally, the weather. Like their farmer members, they have proven themselves to be made of stern stuff, able to ride out most storms and crises.

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But this year is different, not least as the effects are so deep, wide ranging and global – with no certainty in sight.

Although we are best known for our shows, we are much more than that. Our societies and associations were created to share knowledge and improve agriculture.

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Much of what we do today still has this focus and is apparent in many ways. The work of our own education charity – the Food and Farming Discovery Trust – is a good example, bringing new learning opportunities about and through agriculture into the classroom (or, perhaps, the living room).

READ MORE: ‘The real effect is inestimable’ – Royal Norfolk Show cancelled amid coronavirus crisis

Many people have asked us if we intend to create an online show. And to their credit, some have tried to do this already.

But, as we look forward to next year’s show, we think there is a bigger prize – so, with our sister association in Suffolk, we’re hoping to raise the profile of food, farming and the countryside in the region.

Through our joint efforts we will create an even stronger, exciting and vibrant digital network for all those involved, both directly and indirectly.

In so doing, we will not only be able to provide our communities with some flavour of what, sadly, we won’t experience this year but will create a legacy that will help us all to thrive in the future. Stronger, we will use the pulling power of our two great shows to bring everyone together to support the region’s biggest and most important sector – agriculture.

More shortly... watch this space!

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