Show organisers left with ‘no choice’ over cancellation of next year’s event
PUBLISHED: 15:35 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:39 30 September 2020
Farmers and past Suffolk Show directors say organisers of next year’s event were right to cancel it.
Show director Bruce Kerr announced on Wednesday (September 9) that the huge annual two-day farmer-led celebration at Trinity Park in Ipswich planned for June 2 and 3 had been dropped because of the coronavirus crisis, citing potential health and safety, reputational and financial risks.
He and his show committee have been strongly backed by the wider rural community, and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said it was “the right decision”.
While they have drawn some flak for acting early, farmers pointed out the not-for-profit event takes a year to plan, and suggested it was better to give clarity.
MORE – Suffolk Show 2021 is cancelled because of coronavirus uncertainty
“There are one or two people saying that perhaps we have called it early and I can fully understand where they are coming from,” said Mr Kerr. “But the work that goes into the show doesn’t happen overnight. So while I understand some people say we have called it early, we would rather call it early than prevaricate over the winter.”
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Past show director Bill Baker pointed out the event costs around £1.5m to £1.6m to stage, so needed to proceed on a sure footing.
“It’s difficult – very, very difficult,” he said. “It’s a sad announcement but it’s the only responsible one we can make.”
Bee Kemball, who was show director immediately before Mr Kerr, said it was “hugely disappointing”, but expressed sympathy with the show committee. “I know Bruce, his show committee and the whole SAA team will have only made this incredibly difficult decision based on the best public health advice,” she said. “I know Bruce will be personally very disappointed, but we couldn’t ask for a safer pair of hands to lead us through these strange times.”
Country Land and Business (CLA) East acting regional director Nick Sandford said it was sad, “but given the continued uncertainty caused by Covid-19 it is the right decision”.
Stowmarket farmer David Barker, who was deputy president-elect this year, said it was a “bitter blow”, but one the event would bounce back from. When the advice became clear, “it became an easy decision”. “The reality was the risks to people and the huge costs of putting it on and possibly having it cancelled three weeks off would be devastating,” he said.
National Farmers’ Union regional director Gary Ford said it was “really disappointing news”. “Suffolk Show is a fantastic opportunity for the rural community to come together to celebrate the county’s food and farming and this will leave a huge hole in the agricultural and county calendar for a second year. This cancellation highlights the ongoing and long-term impact that Covid-19 is having on the rural community.”
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