In a blow to many rural communities and showing enthusiasts, the Irish Shows Association (ISA) has recommended that agricultural shows should not go ahead this year in light of COVID-19.
The association said it had waited for as long as possible before taking the decision, but that the guidance it had sought had not been forthcoming from the relevant authorities.
“Our advice for shows is not run until public advice allows and, currently, it’s looking as if restrictions aren’t going to ease in time for this year’s shows,” ISA public relations officer Catherine Cotter told the Irish Farmers Journal.
“We originally thought that a couple of the early shows might be cancelled but with the new strains in play it’s looking more and more likely that it will be 2022 before we see a full return of events.”
The ISA estimates that the cancellation of shows in 2021 will cost the rural economy approximately €70m.
A recent survey conducted by the Irish Shows Association (ISA) of its members has revealed that 85% to 90% of show organisers feel unsafe to proceed with events in 2021.
Limerick Show has confirmed that it will not return during 2021. Its members were told that: “Even at Level 1 lockdown, the maximum allowed number at a gathering is 200 to 500. We are a long way from Level 1.”
Meanwhile, Tullamore Show organisers told the Irish Farmers Journal that it hopes to host an event of some kind in 2021.
“We are staying very positive and planning ahead. We hope to stage some sort of event during 2021, be it virtual or the likes,” a spokesperson said.
“A recent survey of our exhibitors has shown that there is a huge interest in returning to shows.
“No decision has been made yet. We’ll be keeping a close eye on public health advice closer to the time.”
The Bannow and Rathangan Show in Wexford has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.
“The wellbeing and safety of all our exhibitors, sponsors visitors, organisers and all those involved with the running of the show, are of paramount importance,” a spokesperson for the show said.
“We expect to make a final decision on the hosting of our events by early May at the latest,” a spokesperson for the National Ploughing Association told the Irish Farmers Journal.
“We are currently taking stock of new advice and what other shows are planning. The postponement of the Agritechnica show until 2022 is very significant,” she added.
“Since we are the 2021 hosts of the world ploughing contest on what is the 90th anniversary of the association, we will be keeping these significant milestones in mind when making our final decision.
“Our decision will come down to what the public health advice allows and we will plan in accordance.”