The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the agricultural fair calendar in the UK for the second year in a row, with high profile victims including Lamma and the Royal Welsh Show.
But following an easing of lockdown restrictions, organizers of some large outdoor agricultural shows were able to put in place Covid security measures to allow events to unfold.
Groundswell, the UK’s largest regenerative agriculture fair, drew over 3,500 visitors over two days to Lannock Manor Farm in Hitchin, Hertfordshire on June 23-24.
Cereals – the UK’s premier arable technical event – takes place in Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire, over two days (June 30 and July 1).
The layout and facilities of both events have been designed to give space and allow organizers to meet the latest government guidelines on Covid security.
There are no official attendance figures yet available for the Cereals event. However, anecdotal reports from the exhibition site suggest attendance was down from previous pre-Covid years, when the event would draw around 20,000 visitors on both days. Better weather conditions on the second day (July 1) seemed to help the numbers.
The topic of visitor numbers was brought up by Daniel Bennett, director of business development at Hillsgreen, a marketing agency specializing in growing agricultural and rural businesses.
We had a great day at @CéréalesEvent yesterday. But as we called it one day, that left us with a question….#fairs #digital marketing #Agriculture #Agriculture #UK # cereals2021 pic.twitter.com/Xc6B9qjCMZ
– Hillsgreen (@hillsgreenHQ) July 1, 2021
In a video uploaded to the company’s Twitter site, Bennett said, “It was good to be outside. I guess at the end of the day there is a question.
“So here we are at Cereals and there are not enough people here. And if there aren’t enough people here, then the companies won’t come and exhibit next time.
“So I think we need to think about how do you get more people? “
Mr. Bennett suggests that digital (virtual) events “may be the way forward”.
“Over the past 15 months, we’ve seen a huge shift in farmers consuming content online,” he said.
“I think we really have to watch this channel to really engage with that audience and still bring them to the shows, because the shows always provide a really valuable platform to have these conversations.
“Now it’s about combining the two: building live shows with online.
The organizers of the Royal Highland Show and the Royal Welsh Show made the decision this year to hold virtual shows behind closed doors due to the pandemic.
Wales’ first agricultural showcase will go live for a second year for a week of celebration of rural and agricultural life from July 19-22.
However, like Cereals and Groundswell, this year’s Great Yorkshire Show will be held in Harrogate from July 13-16, which will be the first four-day event in the show’s history.