Northern Ireland’s largest agricultural event has been cancelled.
The Balmoral Show is usually held across several days every May but the dates had been provisionally pushed back to August amid coronavirus lockdown regulations.
However, the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS), which organises the annual event, said after much discussion and consideration of all options the decision had been taken to cancel.
More than 120,000 visitors attend the Balmoral Show at the Maze site on the outskirts of Lisburn, Co Antrim, every year, to see a showcase of livestock, machinery and food.
RUAS chief executive Dr Alan Crowe said the decision to cancel had been taken with “deep regret”.
“Please be assured that we did not come to this decision lightly. However, after several meetings and the exploration of all alternative options, it became clear that we would have been unable to run the 2020 Show on the rearranged August dates during these unprecedented times,” he said.
“We understand that this news will be disappointing to many. However, as the global Covid-19 pandemic endures, we believe that, as a society, we have an obligation to protect the health and wellbeing of all our staff, members, competitors, visitors, volunteers, trade exhibitors, sponsors, contractors and suppliers.
📸 THROWBACK THURSDAY 📸— Balmoral Show (@balmoralshow) April 9, 2020
A big thank-you to Kathryn Weir who shared this photo from the 2019 Balmoral Show Small Horse Working Hunter class.
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“As Northern Ireland’s largest agri-food event with over 120,000 visitors each year, we are aware of the time, money and hard work put into attending the show by livestock exhibitors, competitors, sponsors, trade stands and suppliers.
“With many local farmers, businesses and visitors facing financial uncertainty at present, we feel that everything is stacked against us in trying to run a show in August.”
The 152nd Balmoral Show will now take place from May 12-15 2021.
The RUAS said tickets bought for the 2020 show will receive a full refund, but urged “patience and understanding” as their team works through the cancellation plans.
The show was previously cancelled in 2001 due to foot and mouth disease, and was suspended between 1939-45 during the Second World War when its then site at the King’s Hall in Belfast was used as a military training ground, supply depot and aircraft factory.