Southern A&P show cancellations financial hit

The scratching of South Island A&P shows from the spring calendar will wipe millions of dollars from local economies.

Canterbury’s pivotal New Zealand Agricultural Show is the latest casualty of Covid-19 alert levels.

Organisers say they had little alternative but to pull the plug for the second year in a row, as there was too much uncertainty.

The nation’s largest show, drawing in 100,000 people over three days, joins the mothballed Rangiora show and half-cancelled Ellesmere event.

That has got the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) considering approaching the Government for financial aid, as shows will have to write off up-front costs.

President Brent Snellex said the cancellation of the Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay shows was a major blow.

‘‘The A&P shows are an amazing vehicle for the urban community to interact with the country and ... it gives the rural community an opportunity to see each other and that’s helpful from a mental health perspective.’’

They were major revenue-earners and their combined losses were likely to run into tens of millions of dollars, he said.

Mr Snellex said it was hard to stomach, with no Covid-19 in the South Island for more than 340 days.

He said the future of other events was unknown.

Australian shows had received financial help from the government, and perhaps the New Zealand Government should step in, he said.

The Ellesmere A&P Association has excluded the public from this weekend’s Selwyn Spring Show, restricting it to exhibitors and competitors. To soften the blow, it plans to livestream some events.

Other shows sailing close to the wind are Ashburton, due to run over three days from October 27, and Amberley, from October 28.

Shearing organisers will proceed with the national Corriedale shearing and woolhandling championships, normally part of the Canterbury show.

Convener Dave Brooker said the championships would be held at the showgrounds, without the public but probably livestreamed.

So far, seven competitions, including shearing at the Rangiora A&P Show, have been cancelled nationally.

- By Tim Cronshaw

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