With numbers only marginally back on last year’s record-breaking attendance, the organisers of the Highland show – which finished its four-day run yesterday – declared the event a major success.
Estimates put attendance at the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s (RHASS) annual festival of farming, which takes place at Ingliston on the outskirts of Edinburgh, at over 187,000 over the course of its four-day run.
And with over £1.6 million spent on the facilities at the showground over the past 12 months society chairman, Willie Gill said that the improvements had been voted a success by those attending the show.
Chief amongst those was the £100,000 spent on the new underpass at the show which allowed animals to be moved across one of the main thoroughfares without creating major hold-ups for pedestrians and a major increase in the availability of wi-fi facilities for visitors.
Despite fears expressed amongst some cattle exhibitors about taking their animals over the top of the underpass, Mr Gill said that as it had been designed to take the weight of the heavy horse turnouts, these concerns were unfounded.
A major series of changes throughout the showground which had been taken to curb what had been viewed as a growing problem with drink-fuelled antisocial behaviour in recent years had also had the desired effect, according to the society:
“While we never wanted to hinder the well recognised social aspect of the show, the new arrangements would appear to have had the desired effect of allowing people to continue to enjoy themselves but with minimum of distress or anxiety for others visitors to the show,” said Mr Gill.
The moves which had seen one main beer tent replaced with several smaller sites, spread across the showground, together with a larger and more understanding security presence had allowed any tensions to be swiftly resolved and there had been a minimum of trouble.
“It was good that farmers and others were able to talk with friends, colleagues and acquaintances about the issue when it happened and although there were no hard answers to many of the questions which a change like this has thrown up, the opportunity to discuss things with others was probably better than brooding at home.”
l Meanwhile, doubt now hangs over the future of the proposals to erect a new permanent members pavilion at the Highland show’s Ingliston site. Confirming that there would be no permanent structure in place for next year’s show, Mr Gill said that an asbestos study had been commissioned for the existing facilities and a demolition warrant had been approved - so the current building would be down by the next show.
However he said plans had been drawn up for a replacement.