This year the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show is to take place over two days for the first time in its history to ensure safety for the public, exhibitors and competitors.
The event, which was cancelled last year because of the Covid emergency, will take place on Wednesday 18 August and Thursday 19 August 2021. It is usually held on just one day.
Show organisers say the the decision allows them to spilt visitor numbers over the two days, complying with social distancing and all event regulation requirements in August.
James Cox, Show Secretary & Event Organiser, said: ‘We announce this decision during these dark days of lockdown with our best intentions at heart. The Show for over a hundred years has brought together the community and celebrated the very best of the Great British Countryside.
‘Today, we bring you hope and optimism that better days will come. If you are a visitor we will provide you with a safe and enjoyable family day out this summer. As a farmer we will bring back your networking event offering you the opportunity to meet buyers, suppliers, machinery dealers and of course fellow farmers after an isolated year.
‘If you are a business currently struggling during lockdown we will reopen our gates this summer and put you, the producer in contact with the consumer.’
Mr Cox added: ‘We are proud to play our part in the recovery of our region’s economy and will do our bit by offering businesses a discounted rate to Trade at the 2021 Show, not only to assist with the costs associated with a two-day Show but to help those businesses that have suffered over the past year.’
Organisers had looked at a number of options and say that month after month under ever changing rules have been spent evaluating how to make a safe return. James Cox said: ‘While we hope like many that the vaccine roll out means normality resumes by August we as a business and charity must be prepared for all eventualities and therefore have taken the only decision possible other than cancellation, one that allows us to ensure our return with or without COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing.
The Show will be a COVID Secure and compliant event and will meet all regulations provided by Government and Local Authorities at the time of the Show. The health and safety of our visitors, competitors, stewards, members and community are our highest priorities, you are the Show.’
To manage the show’s safe return organizers have put in a number of changes these include a strict capacity plan meaning that for now there will be a limited number of tickets with none available to purchase on the day.
Some competitive classes may not be able to go ahead. Livestock and equine classes will be spilt over the two days with livestock only to attend on the day or night before their class. Strict cleaning protocols throughout, less marquees, wider avenues, sanitising and hand-washing stations will be in place.
However, the show organisers say they will also introduce exciting areas such as the Food & Drink Area featuring picnic tipis surrounded by ‘mouth-watering local artisan producers’. They stress that like any other year the show will be dedicated to being an ‘entertaining, relaxed rural day out for the whole family’, showcasing traditions, heritage and modern life in agriculture and the countryside – along with the craftsman within it.
‘The Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show has survived world wars, recessions and as many know the great British weather, 2021 we are certainly ready for you,’ said James Cox.
‘We will continue to update you on planning over the coming months as we prepare for the safe and gradual reopening of the gates to the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show. In the meantime, from all of us here at the Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show we wish you the very best during these difficult times. Stay Safe and we look forward to welcoming you back on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 August 2021,’ he added.
The Show will shortly put on sale a limited number of Early Bird Tickets and open applications for Trade Stands.