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Suffolk Show cancelled ‘with great sadness’ due to coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 14:59 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 18 March 2020

Crowds descending on the Suffolk Show  Picture: SAA

Crowds descending on the Suffolk Show Picture: SAA

SAA

The Suffolk Show – the county’s biggest annual showcase – has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

Young handler Charlotte Bolderston, aged 6 with Pippet   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNYoung handler Charlotte Bolderston, aged 6 with Pippet Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It is with great sadness, following the latest government advice regarding coronavirus, that we are forced to cancel the Suffolk Show on May 27 and 28, 2020,” show organisers said in a statement.

The loss of the show – which attracts around 90k visitors over the two days – is a big blow to Suffolk, but not unexpected in the light of the growing fallout from the crisis and government advice.

“We will be communicating with our exhibitors, sponsors, competitors, contractors, volunteers and visitors as soon as possible to discuss the consequences of this decision,” the statement, from organisers Suffolk Agricultural Association chairman David Nunn, chief executive Phillip Ainsworth and show director Bruce Kerr said.

MORE – Organisers ‘incredibly excited’ as countdown to Suffolk Show 2020 begins

Visitors enjoyed the sunshine on day two of the Suffolk Show   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNVisitors enjoyed the sunshine on day two of the Suffolk Show Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We would like to thank everyone involved with us for your continuing support. Please bear with us while we work on arrangements going forwards.

“We will now focus on making our 2021 show a celebration to be proud of.”

Disappointed show director Bruce Kerr - for whom this would have been the first of three shows at the helm – said they had tried to find a way of postponing the event, but it had not proved possible.

“I’m gutted, but we have to do the right thing and be responsible,” he said.

The Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Over the past 10 days they had looked at the postponement option, but it hadn’t proved feasible, and with arable farmers hitting harvest time later on in the summer to autumn period, there wasn’t the scope.

“We would be severely depleted in delivering the show,” he said.

“The medical profession is under such pressure and will continue to be so and we have to do the responsible thing – they’ll not be able to support us and it would be irresponsible.”

The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) – the farm charity behind the show – would undoubtedly take a financial hit, but this had not been their top concern, he said.

The Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Grand Parade on the final day of the Suffolk Show Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The SAA said it would be communicating with exhibitors, sponsors, competitors, contractors, volunteers and visitors as soon as possible to discuss the consequences of the decision.

Mr Kerr described the current crisis as “unprecedented in our times”. “It’s not like any of the previous situations that we have ever been faced with and we wanted to just try and explore the options fully prior to making the announcement.”

SAA chief executive Phillip Ainsworth said: “It’s just been so challenging for us. We have had to follow the science and the medical advice – that’s the compelling thing.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) regional director Rachel Carrington said the decision was “extremely disappointing”, but the right decision in the current climate. Show organisers are now focused on making Suffolk Show 2021 “a celebration to be proud of”.

Bruce Kerr of Kerr Farm near Woodbridge with this year's asparagus harvest
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019Bruce Kerr of Kerr Farm near Woodbridge with this year's asparagus harvest Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

A number of big events nationally have been either cancelled or postponed as the virus continues to tighten its grip, with 676 new UK cases to bring the total to 2,626, and a total of 56,221 tests

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