The Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) is highlighting acts of creativity and generosity from the event sector, as it continues to support the agricultural industry during the Covid-19 crisis. The association has seen its members face the toughest period of business since the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001 but is also witnessing event organisations provide vital support to the agricultural community at a crucial time.
The examples underline the importance events will play in kickstarting multiple industries across UK plc, but specifically the agricultural and farming marketplace. ASAO continue to work in close collaboration with UK Agricultural and Countryside & Equine Shows to highlight positive examples of events and agriculture working together.
“This is an industry that needs shows to stimulate its marketplace, and the mass cancellations that our members are suffering at the moment has led to a negative impact on the farming industries,” comments Paul Hooper, Secretary, ASAO. “However, many societies are taking their responsibility to their communities further and are finding different ways to support UK agriculture.”
Examples include the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association (RCAA) with its Farm & Country education project, launching a series of activities that children can do from home, learning about topics such as Livestock and Dairy Farming. The idea is to create virtual classrooms of children learning about some of the most important industries in the region, and to unite them through the hashtag #FrontRoomFarming.
The Cheshire Agricultural Society, The Royal Cheshire County Show, has also put learning activities out through social media, including colouring competitions for the younger children to win family tickets to next year’s show.
The Dorset County Show, which is still scheduled to take place in early September, has also released creative competitions for the whole family to get involved in, from junior paintings to adults’ pastel pictures. Also supporting education, but this time in collaboration with local schools, is Newport & District Agricultural Society, who have opened their park to local schools for key worker’s children.
Meanwhile, Driffield Agricultural Society has offered its main hall to the National Blood Service for the next eight weeks, whilst also offering the full site and facilities to East Riding Council for any use they think necessary in helping to fight the virus. Also donating equipment to local authorities and health services is The Liskeard Show, who have donated all their PPE equipment (mostly hand sanitiser) to local GP surgeries in the area. Suffolk Agricultural Association are also enabling the local Blood Donor service to operate on their site.
Also embracing ‘technology and virtual’, The Heathfield Show is putting together a virtual Show with competition entries being encouraged from ‘young handlers’ and adults alike, and entries to consist of photographs of horse sheep pigs and cattle. Judging will be opened out to the local community who will be able to asses from a long list put together by the show organisers.
Finally, a new campaign led by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society is aiming to celebrate and highlight the crucial role farmers are playing to keep the nation fed. Farm To Fork is a new social media-led initiative to champion the region’s important agricultural sector during the coronavirus outbreak. It will also raise awareness of the innovative ways in which farm shops are safely meeting social distancing rules to remain open.
The examples underline the strength of the county show community, and its links with local people and businesses. The events industry is facing an epic challenge with the halting of mass gatherings, but is hopeful of being part of a post-Covid-19 stimulus of both businesses and civic pride.