Belfast Telegraph

Country sports fair in Scarva cancelled over rising costs

Showjumping at the fair in 2017
Showjumping at the fair in 2017
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A popular country sports event in Co Armagh that attracts huge crowds every year has been cancelled over rising costs.

The NI Countrysports Fair has been held at Scarvagh House in Scarva since 1996, with organisers claiming 250,000 visitors attended last year.

Among the sports on offer are horse riding, angling, ferret racing and clay pigeon shooting.

The event also serves as a showcase for local food and drink suppliers.

An announcement on the event's official Facebook page said the event was no longer sustainable.

It read: "Unfortunately the NI Countrysports Fair will not be going ahead in 2020. We would like to thank everyone for their support in the past. However, with rising costs in organising an event of this size, we are finding it unsustainable and cannot justify continuing at this time."

The event receives support from Tourism NI, the Department of Agriculture, and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

The Banbridge Chronicle reported the organisers denied they were not supported, but called the current system "inflexible".

A spokesperson said: "The administration system could be a lot easier for applying for support.

"When support is awarded it is mostly inflexible, and when organising an event such as this you cannot afford to be inflexible.

"In most cases you find that it takes that much effort so close to our show, it's questionable whether it's worth it or not."

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley, a keen supporter of the event, said: "The fair was a fantastic avenue for the country sports sector in Northern Ireland to showcase itself, and it will be sorely missed by rural communities.

"Going forward, I will be offering my assistance to see if there is any way to try and accommodate the Countrysports Fair, and alleviate the strains the organisers are currently facing."

Meanwhile, over 200 fans of the event took to social media in support of the organisers.

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