Highland show back on track for the full experience on 2022

The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society (RHASS) has revealed that it is well ahead with plans for ‘as full a Royal Highland show as it can possibly deliver’ next year - and indicated that it was in a much better financial position than had earlier been anticipated.

The society’s top brass were in positive mood at a press briefing this week, and despite the current surge in the Omicron coronavirus variant, both chair Bill Gray and chief executive, Alan Laidlaw, were upbeat about the 2022 show which would represent the society’s 200th anniversary.

“With the show being an outdoor event taking place over 300 acres, together with the huge increase in the level of vaccinations and factoring in the seasonality of the pandemic which, while it seems to peak in the winter also seems to dip away during the summer months, we are confident that we’ll be able to put on a ‘show to remember’ in a Covid safe manner,” said Laidlaw.

The pair admitted that while there might be some restrictions on numbers over the weekend of the event, it was less likely that this would be the case on the Thursday and Friday of the show:

“That is why, although there are no restrictions on when they can attend, we are asking members to let us know which days they plan to visit the show,” said Gray, who said many people followed a pattern and attended on certain days each year – either to see the stockjudging of particular breeds or catch a specific event:

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“And if we know member attendance will be down on a specific day we can plan to release more tickets for gate entries.”

Laidlaw said that steps were afoot to address the often crammed conditions in the indoor food hall area, stating that changes had been planned here even before the pandemic had raised its head.

While the society’s audited accounts had not yet been finalised, the pair said that early indications were that they were much better than had been anticipated and that the society was comfortable that it would meet the budget which it had set itself.

Although Gray said he wouldn’t go as far as say the organisation was out of the woods yet, Laidlaw claimed that the society was in a “much, much better place than we could ever have imagined” - indicating that this was by a factor of several hundred thousand pounds.

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Part of this improvement had been due to the Save Your Show campaign, but a substantial insurance pay-out for the cancellation of the 2020 show had helped boost funding - as had the use of facilities as a Covid vaccination centre and mail sorting office along with £750,000 invested by the Scottish Government in supporting the 2021 ‘showcase’ on-line event which had reached all corners of the globe.

And while pure logistics would mean that delivering such broad on-line coverage of the livestock event would be difficult during a full show, a hybrid approach which allowed some broadcasting of events was planned.

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