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Royal show closes its doors

THIS YEAR’S 160th Royal Show will be the last in its present form to be held by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.

In a letter sent to members of the RASE this week, Chairman of Trustees, Hugh Oliver-Bellasis, said that the decision had been a real challenge but the response to the Show in recent years left the Society with little option.

The problems leading to the closure of the popular annual farming event are cited in the letter:
‘In the aftermath of the Foot and Mouth disaster in 2001 closely followed by very bad weather two years ago and Blue Tongue last year, the event has struggled - both financially and in its ability to attract both farming and non-farming visitors.

‘We have decided to go ahead with this year’s event - the 160th Royal Show and the 46th at Stoneleigh Park. We hope everyone will support the Society and make a real effort to come to Stoneleigh between July 7th-10th, have a great day out, enjoy the livestock, horses, technical features and shopping and bid a fond farewell to an event that has long been held in great affection by farmers and others who work and live in the British countryside.

‘The Society currently delivers a programme of activities which include the Practice with Science Group, the Society’s Technical Events, exhibitions, conferences, Journals, website, as well as the quite remarkable and successful charitable and educational work embraced by the Arthur Rank Centre and Farm and Countryside Education (FACE) which helps bring food and farming awareness to schoolchildren. In addition, we are developing plans to increase our influence throughout the English regions by closer engagement with Society Members, our Council and our Fellows, who have the vital regional contact, influence and knowledge.

‘The Royal Show has been unique, in its international as well as its local influence, as an agricultural summer event. The Show combined business and entertainment in a way that established it as one of the major events in the English summer calendar. Today’s dire worldwide economic crisis is an added challenge, thus the Trustees have concluded that the Royal Show is no longer economically viable.
‘We are now working very hard to extract the best and most appropriate elements of the Royal Show - those which may be the foundation for individual Technical Events, or which could be grafted on to existing events. There are key elements of the Royal Show which we believe offer genuine opportunities going forward such as equine, smallholdings and horticulture, our traditional livestock classes and education.

‘We dont want people to dwell on the demise of the Royal Show, but focus on the innovative events that RASE will deliver in 2010 and beyond. We want them to see this moment as a watershed; the beginning of feeling re-engaged with a Society that not only listens, but also hears the call of its audience.’

Since the Royal Show began in 1839, there have been 159 Shows and from 1839-1962 inclusive, they moved from place to place each year but thereafter they have all been held at Stoneleigh Park which is the home of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and also the venue for the City of Birmingham Dog Show and home of the new Kennel Club Building.

The Royal Show will be held from 7-10 July at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. Visit for more information.

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