HOPES THAT a move to a later date might allow this year's Balmoral Show to go ahead have been stymied, with the announcement that the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society has now entirely pulled the plug on the event.

At the outset of the Covid-19 lockdown, the RUAS had revealed a rescheduled show date, moving Northern Ireland's biggest farming event from its usual May slot to a new date in August this year. However, as the national restrictions have continued, the society has been forced to concede that the show cannot go on.

RUAS chief executive Dr Alan Crowe said: “It is with deep regret that the RUAS has taken the decision to cancel the 2020 Balmoral Show, scheduled to take place from Wednesday August 18 to Saturday August 22 2020.

“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.

“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," said Dr Crowe.

“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.

“Moving forward, the RUAS will continue to take great pride in supporting and showcasing our local farming community and we plan to return next year with a Balmoral Show stronger than ever.”

The 152nd Balmoral Show, held in partnership with Ulster Bank, will now take place from Wednesday May 12 to Saturday May 15, 2021, at Balmoral Park, Lisburn.