The 2021 National Ploughing Championships trade exhibition has been cancelled, the National Ploughing Association (NPA) has confirmed.

“The decision to cancel the 2021 trade exhibition has been made following months of monitoring the COVID-19 status and taking into account the Government's updated roadmap for the next few months,” a spokesperson said.

“Given the sheer scale of the Ploughing with 297,000 attendees in 2019 and the lack of clarity about what COVID-19 restrictions and regulations will look like in September for outdoor events, it was felt that cancelling the 1,700 trade exhibitor event was the only option.

“As the timeline to start site works is imminent, the NPA just could not wait any longer to make a decision.”

The Ploughing competitions are still scheduled to go ahead from 15 to 17 September.

This will include virtual content promoting exhibitors, combined with a week of interactive #Ploughing2021 digital activations for all to get involved with.

Looking forward

The World Ploughing contest, due to be held in Ireland to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the NPA, attracting visitors from 30 countries, was also cancelled given the extent of current international travel restrictions.

The NPA has said that unless there was full confidence that the trade exhibition could go ahead without causing any risk to exhibitors, competitors and visitors, it would not be feasible.

NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said: “It’s a massive disappointment to the association to have to cancel the trade exhibition two years in a row, in particular when you consider the estimated annual economic impact of €50m that will be lost to the Irish economy.

“The NPA is a strong establishment. We have a massively committed team behind the event, our exhibitors and our patrons have been very loyal over the years and we look forward to bringing the exhibition back at its full potential in 2022.

“We will run our National Ploughing competitions this year and hopefully we can welcome some visitors pending regulations.”

The NPA has also confirmed that the event will return to Ratheniska in 2022, from 20 to 22 September.