Organisers have been forced to cancel this year’s English Winter Fair and Royal Welsh Winter Fair as part of the latest spate of agricultural events to succumb to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society, which runs the English Winter Fair, said: “Part of the show’s attraction is its diversity with food, farming, shopping and socialising all featuring, and thousands of people were expected to pour through the gates of the Staffordshire Showground in November.

But with uncertainty still hanging over the feasibility of large public gatherings, and farmers needing time to prepare world-class show cattle, pigs and sheep, the Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society has taken the difficult decision to cancel for 2020.

The English Winter Fair and National Pedigree Calf Show were scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday, November 21 and 22, 2020.

‘A hard decision, but the right one’

The showgrounds include purpose-built exhibition centres allowing the whole event to be held under cover. The carcass section is held in a specially refrigerated and enclosed hall adjacent to the main exhibition area.

Richard Williams, the society’s chief executive, said: “It was a hard decision to make, but I believe that, given the circumstances, it is the right one.

Organising an event of this scale takes a huge amount of resources and effort from both our team and those who take part, so it is not a decision we’ve taken lightly.

“However, the safety of all involved is a clear priority – as is the experience of anyone taking part or attending – and Covid-19 restrictions will be with us for months yet.

“While it is disappointing to have to cancel, the show will return bigger and better in 2021.”

According to the BBC, the showground’s 60ac site had been earmarked for use as a makeshift mortuary during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Staffordshire County Show, which was due to take place on May 27 and 28, was also cancelled because of Covid-19.

The 2021 English Winter Fair will take place on November 20 and 21.

Royal Welsh Winter Fair

The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society said it had made the difficult decision to cancel its flagship winter event with “deep regret”.

The event is the last major event in the society’s calendar and was to be held on the Royal Welsh Showground on November 30 and December 1.

This decision follows the cancellation of the 2020 Smallholding and Countryside Festival and Royal Welsh Show and will have a significant impact on the society and all stakeholders.

“Despite some optimism around the ongoing releasing of restrictions, the trustees came to the conclusion that the event could not operate safely within the law covering social distancing and guidance affecting mass gatherings. There are no plans to allow large gatherings or reduce the 2m rule in Wales in the near future,” a statement read.

Royal Welsh Agricultural Society chief executive Steve Hughson added: “Everyone at the society is deeply disappointed that all of our major events have been cancelled this year.

“However, we take our responsibilities as an event organiser very seriously and must play our part in fighting this pandemic.

The society would like to thank our members, traders, exhibitors, competitors, sponsors and all stakeholders for their understanding and patience during this period of uncertainty. We will keep you fully informed regarding any further developments in what is an unprecedented situation.

“We are all working hard to ensure that the society and its events come through this crisis, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to our showground when it is safe to do so.”

AgriScot cancelled

It comes after organisers in Scotland were forced to cancel this year’s AgriScot. The Scottish winter show was planned to take place in Ingliston on November 18.

AgriScot chairman Robert Neill said: “Having carefully considered the matter, we do not believe that a virtual AgriScot in 2020 could adequately replace the face-to-face business event format.

“However, we do intend to mark this year’s date with online activity. More details will be released in due course.”