No crowd allowed but show goes on

South Otago A&P Society president Bridget Lowry stands in front of an empty Balclutha showground...
South Otago A&P Society president Bridget Lowry stands in front of an empty Balclutha showground grandstand. It will remain devoid of spectators during next month’s annual show. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Next month’s South Otago A&P Show will be conducted behind closed doors.

South Otago A&P Society president Bridget Lowry said the show committee unanimously decided at a planning meeting last week to restrict the event to exhibitors only because of continuing Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

The decision would mean several changes to the programme and structure of the annual community centrepiece, on November 27, and no members of the public would be permitted to attend.

Mrs Lowry said the decision was a ‘‘huge blow’’, but at least allowed the show to continue in some form.

‘‘Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be out of Level 2 lockdown by then, so we’ve had to make the very, very hard decision to make it exhibitors-only this year, and put some rules in place around timings and movements for those attending.’’

That would include a later start for exhibitors, social distancing for judges, and an expectation that exhibitors would remain on site only for their event.

‘‘It’s all a bit sad, really, because it’s usually such an important social event for everyone who comes along and takes part.

‘‘For example, some of the classes usually arrive the night before and stay with their animals in the stalls; but this year that can’t happen, so we’ve moved the start times a bit later so they can arrive on the day instead.’’

Mrs Lowry said show elements surviving the change were equestrian, dairy and beef events, some home industries, and show queens.

No other events would take place.

Home industry sections would proceed with some limitations, and in an altered format.

‘‘Essentially, we can’t have any perishables in home industries, and we’re hoping to harness a shop window in town to display and judge the remaining sections on the Friday night, then perhaps leave them on display until the Christmas parade so people can still have a good look.’’

Given the Covid-19 situation was subject to change at any moment, so were show plans.

‘‘It’s a real shame to have to do this after last year’s show was so good ...

‘‘But I think the public will understand why we’ve made the decision, despite the frustration some may feel.

‘‘It’s a frustration we all share.’’

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