The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has announced plans to cancel three of its major shows for 2021 while the showgrounds will instead become a testing and vaccination centre.

In a statement posted online, a spokesperson said the decision to cancel May’s Smallholding and Countryside Festival and postpone Clwyd’s Feature County Year and the Royal Welsh Show until 2022 was made with “deep regret after careful consideration”.

“Our team continues to work in partnership with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to ensure the event sector has a strong voice, however current restrictions, as set out in the ‘Coronavirus Control Plan’ and the various Alert Levels mean that it is impossible to hold large events this summer,” the statement added.

Any restrictions on numbers and the associated 2m social distancing rules are major barriers to the viability of events, such as the Royal Welsh Show.

“That said our staff, trustees and the whole society are committed to ensuring the showground is event ready when rules allow.”

Despite the postponement of the Royal Welsh Show, the society said it would explore opportunities to host smaller Covid-compliant events during the summer.

“It is our ambition to host a bumper Winter Fair, before returning to a new normality in 2022,” the statement read.

2021 shows

Further announcements are expected to be made later in the coming weeks when a better understanding of the pandemic and restrictions is available.

The society’s flagship show – the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show – had been due to take place from July 19-22.

No further updates have yet been made on the status of other major UK and Irish agricultural shows.

The Royal Highland Show is still scheduled for June 17-20, 2021.

Northern Ireland’s flagship agricultural event, Balmoral Show, has been postponed until September 22-25, 2021, while south of the border the National Ploughing Championships are still due to take place a week earlier on September 15-18.

Showgrounds to become testing and vaccination centre

RWAS chief executive Steve Hughson said: “We continue to work alongside the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to create a ‘road map’ for the safe re-opening of events.

“Our events are central to the rural economy and way of life and mean so much to members, exhibitors, traders and visitors and we fully understand the responsibility on all of us to ensure we deliver our events as soon as it is safe to do so.

Despite these challenges, the society has stepped forward to support our local community by providing free facilities for a Covid-19 testing centre and a mass vaccination centre.

Chairman of the Board John T Davies said: “It is with the regret that the decision has been made to cancel this year’s Smallholding and Countryside Festival and to postpone the Royal Welsh Show.

“We will explore the possibilities of smaller, alternative events this summer and with the Board of Directors will continue to focus on protecting our society for the next generation.

“We greatly appreciate the support of our members and other stakeholders. The continued support of all associated with the society has never been more important.”

The society will contact those who had booked or reserved tickets for this year’s cancelled and postponed events directly.