Royal Highland Show goes ahead behind the scenes

It was confirmed yesterday that the Royal Highland show will take place “behind closed doors” this year - with £750,000 backing from the Scottish government to help protect the long-term viability of the event.

Royal Highland Show 2018 - sheep shearing generals
Royal Highland Show 2018 - sheep shearing generals

As was heavily hinted in Andrew Arbuckle’s Monday column, the administration has stepped in as a white knight with funding to support the event which will be livestreamed from the Ingliston showground to viewers around the globe.

Taking place on the week commencing June 14, the showcase will focus on livestock judging, equestrian, food and drink and rural skills and work will continue in the run up to the event to ensure that strict Covid-19 protocols are in place.

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The organisers said that the announcement followed detailed planning in collaboration with the Scottish government to develop an event that would highlight the best of farming, food and rural life, both for a domestic audience and internationally - maintaining Scotland s reputation as the “perfect stage” for major events.

Rural secretary, Fergus Ewing said the award recognised the show’s key role as a vehicle for education and cultural promotion of the Scottish rural and agricultural industries.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to see progress and that next year we will be able to mark the 180th Royal Highland Show and bicentennial anniversary of the first show, together in person.”

RHASS chairman, Bill Gray said that the event would bridge the gap between the no-show year of 2020 and the 180th Royal Highland Show celebration in 2022, the bicentennial anniversary of the organisation’s first show:

“The support we have garnered from the wider agricultural sector, coupled with Scottish government funding, reinforces the importance of the Royal Highland Show,” said Gray yesterday.

He claimed the showcase would help shine a light on the farmers and rural communities who had been steadfast throughout the pandemic and would allow the society to promote rural Scotland to a wider audience.

“This event will see Scotland’s agricultural industry taking centre stage as the country re-emerges from this dark time… It is our opportunity to bring to life our industry’s work, to support our sector's mental wellbeing and create greater understanding between producer and consumer to help build a sustainable industry.”

Others backing the Royal Highland Showcase include sector organisations such as Scotland Food & Drink, QMS, the Scottish Association of Young Farmer Clubs and rural charity, RSABI.

“SAYFC members cannot wait to get behind this Showcase to support RHASS in delivering a live event that is a true reflection of our industry,” said the organisation’s Penny Montgomery.

Nina Clancy, RSABI chief executive, said: “It has been an incredibly difficult time and we all desperately need something to look forward to. Celebrating the best of farming and rural Scotland the week of 14th June will be a huge boost to morale.”

John Yates, of The British Texel Sheep Society, wished the organisers every success, and praised the efforts required to cope with the ever changing legislation surrounding social distancing and other related Covid-19 restrictions.