The Royal Show is changing its dates and format next year, in the hope of broadening its appeal. Organisers are also planning changes to the equestrian content and inviting exhibitors to put forward ideas.
“We’ve been consulting widely on the future of the Royal Show,” said John Moverley, chief executive of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE), a division of which runs the show. “There’s an overwhelming need for a national event of its kind, but it needed to be restructured.
Traditionally, the Royal starts on a Sunday and finishes on a Wednesday. In 2008, it will run from 3-6 July, Wednesday to Sunday.
Mr Moverley said Thursday and Friday will have a stronger emphasis on business, while Saturday and Sunday will focus on reconnecting country, town and industry, as well as food and drink. This year, the cancellation of the final day of the show to all but equestrian exhibitors resulted in a loss of around £240,000.
Chief horse steward Guy Hurst said the show is “open to all suggestions” about how to improve the equestrian content.
“The change of dates will help because we can have native breeds at the weekend and people won’t have to take a day off work to come,” he said. “We’ve already changed things in recent years — introducing coloured classes and doing away with flu jab requirements.
“We might consider bolstering the show jumping, and we’re looking at putting on an extra ring, so there will be three rings for equestrian classes.” While the new date does not clash with the Hickstead Derby meeting (possibly 26-29 July in 2008), it does leave little time before the Great Yorkshire Show (8-10 July). The Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS) believes this will impact on its show.
YAS show director Bill Cowling said: “We’re very disappointed and see the Royal’s decision as divisive and damaging to the industry.” He said Mr Moverley’s offer to allow livestock to leave the Royal early to travel to Great Yorkshire was “simply not an option”.
“It isn’t practical or advisable to show stock with less than a day’s rest between two events,” he said. “Particularly when several hours of travelling are involved.”
If you have any suggestions, contact the RASE by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (tel: 024 7669 6969).