IT MIGHT not be the show as we all know and love it, but the RHASS is going all out to ensure that the Showcase that it is putting on in its stead will be a quality streamed event which will still provide a great 'visitor' experience.

The week-long show, which starts on June 14 and ends on June 20, promises to reach out both to its traditional show-going audience and a whole new world-wide set of fans.

The organisers have been working hard behind the scenes to deliver a quality show of live-streamed judging, analysis and chat that will total nine hours every day, with a 'highlights' show available after each day.

"The planning behind this has been huge ... even more exhaustive than building the new pavilion," pointed out Mark Currie. "While it will be a fitting substitute for a full-on event, it won't be a replacement for the real thing. However, we are confident that this Showcase will point the way ahead for show in the years to come.

"This experience will allow us to provide a hybrid of a great show for 200,000 people to attend, but also for many thousands of others to watch on-line, literally opening up a whole new world for the Royal Highland Show," he added.

"Live-streaming the show will be a necessity this year because of Covid-19 restrictions, but it will be an enhancement for years to come," he promised.

The scale of the ambitious plan is colossal. At any one time there will be a production team of 100 people providing the 'show' from the ringside, plus many other angles to what's happening. There will be footage from four live-streams throughout the show day, covering all of the livestock classes.

"This won't be just like watching static CCTV footage, this will be BBC quality broadcasting live into the laptops and TVs of our members and many others. It will be a free live-streaming exercise as we are keen to fulfil the RHASS charter of education and information and so anyone anywhere can tune in," said Mr Currie.

Despite fears that livestock entries were on the slow side, show manager David Tennant, said the organisers and directors had been more than pleased with the support it was getting for the showing part of Showcase. He revealed that an expected 3000 head of livestock would be confirmed once entries were tallied up today (Friday, May 21).

While some sections might have to be dropped due to a lack of appropriate numbers, there was strong support from most of the major breeds and from the equine world in particular.

We asked the organisers to answer some FAQs for us:

Why did RHASS decide to do this?

Our farmers never stopped through Cocid-19 and neither will we. We know how much the show means to our members, the wider agricultural community and the show-going public.

This innovative event will act as a bridge between the no-show year of 2020 and the planned 180th show in 2022, the bicentennial anniversary of our very first show. It will enable us to take the very best of food, farming and rural life live from the showground at Ingliston to a global audience, raising the profile of Scottish agriculture.

The live show will provide an opportunity for exhibitors of all ages to come to Ingliston and put their livestock in the shop window.

For those unable to attend, they can tune in at home and watch as much of the 300-plus hours of live and on-demand content as they can. Ultimately, we wanted to offer the entire agricultural audience the opportunity to reconnect with their community in the best way possible at this time.

What is the overall investment?

The overall project will break-even with an income and expenditure of £1.2m, that includes £750,000 of Scottish Government funding. A significant amount of this budget will benefit not only the bicentennial 2022 RHS and beyond, but the entire venue all year round.

What support have you had from sponsors?

The 2019 show sponsors responded positively, with more than £100,000 committed so far. We are delighted to have two new main sponsors supporting the showcase and further discussions are taking place.

The Scottish Government is providing financial support for the Royal Highland Showcase, protecting the long-term sustainability of the Royal Highland Show and Royal Highland Centre and recognising its key role as a vehicle for education and cultural promotion of the Scottish rural and agricultural industries.

What have been the main challenges?

With uncertainty over Covid-19 restrictions, the decision to cancel this year’s show was inevitable but we knew we had to do something for the rural community, which has arguably endured as much isolation as any community during the pandemic.

The challenge has been to pull together an event of such scale and complexity in just a few months. The biggest has been pivoting the show from a traditional live event into a broadcast event.

Who will be able to attend – what is the max number you can accommodate?

Our visitors' safety is paramount and we expect to welcome around 10,000 people on site over the seven days. All of our plans have been approved by senior clinicians within Scottish Government.

Our VIPs will, as always, be our exhibitors and their livestock and as you can understand we will be restricting numbers on site where possible beyond the exhibitors.

What will exhibitor’s experience be like?

The experience on site will be very different for everyone attending but we have worked closely with each section to maintain the integrity of competitions and judging as much as possible.

We have worked closely with officers at Scottish Government and City of Edinburgh Council and have reached an excellent balance of safety and experience for all attending, and we hope that after two years of no RHS, this will be a fitting substitute.

The judge line-up is different this year – why?

We have worked closely with chief stewards and committees who oversee the judging appointments in each section and we have taken some pragmatic decisions to ensure we create an exciting and balanced group of judges, which we might not get the opportunity to do in a normal year.

We are thrilled to be presenting a top tier of young talent as this year’s beef cattle judges. Each individual is well qualified to take control of the rings, having excelled in their own right as stock judges and breeders, and we are excited to be giving our next generation an opportunity to shine as part of this year’s innovative showcase.

Livestreaming: What will the line-up look like?

The production team will be pushing the boundaries to bring as much of the show to the audience as possible. There will be up to four live streams bringing action from across the showground for up to nine hours a day for the seven days of the Showcase.

In addition, we will have an on demand service where competitions we are unable to stream live will be filmed and edited into highlight packages.

Show favourites such as the Cookery Theatre will be replaced by a series of bespoke films with some of Scotland’s top chefs cooking dishes in their own kitchens.

Equestrian lovers are in for a treat as we will be covering every show-jumping competition live on a dedicated stream.

In addition, the showing classes will dominate action in the main arena – and for the first time the Countryside Area will be transformed into a unique working hunter venue for three days of competition. Show jumping will be as four stand-alone one-day events with a variety of exciting classes, including our Grand Prix event and a total prize fund of £40,000.

We also plan to have microphones on some of the judges so we can hear their thoughts as they pick the winners.

How will people know how to log on?

Viewers will have the ability to cast the live-streams to any smart TV. We will provide ‘how to’ videos ahead of time.

What are the logistics of creating seven days of content? There is a huge team involved, not just from RHASS but from broadcast production and technical contractors and the executive producer is Simon Cousins, formerly of BBC’s Landward.

On the Sunday of the Showcase, we will have the longest live broadcast in the history of the Royal Highland Show. The ‘Main Event’ will be an action-packed eight-hour magazine-marathon of live events, highlights from all the best competitions of the preceding six days, crafted films, enlightening live interviews, insights and plenty of fun in the company of the engaging, and hugely experienced, presenting team of Sarah Mack and Dougie Vipond.

What ‘extras’ will members get?

On the website there will be an area for members only with a range of additional content. We will write to all members by early June to let them know how to access the Showcase and exclusive member content, including behind the scenes at the Showcase, judges interviews, and some RHASS and RHS stories.

What support have you had from other stakeholders?

We have had a huge amount of support from organisations such as NFUS, Scottish Food and Drink, the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth, SAYFC and SRUC to name just a few.

RSABI has a number of exciting initiatives including the launch of a new video ‘We all need a farmer’ featuring narration and still images from agriculture with the aim of giving farmers and crofters a boost, and with the message that RSABI is here for them. This year RSABI’s #KeepTalking campaign is taking place over a week rather than one day.

Our education charity, RHET's contributions will include engaging videos, suggested activities to do at home or the classroom, a teacher-focused webinar, meeting our volunteers, and much more.

Teachers and parents are being encouraged to sign up to receive updates on what to expect from the RHET programme during the week long event.

What will the legacy be for future years?

All the content from the showcase will be available on demand for three months after the event. We will be evaluating the success of it and would certainly hope to develop it for future years so that more people can enjoy the Royal Highland Show.