AN EVENT celebrating agriculture, the countryside and the rural community is making a comeback this year, split across two days for the first time.

The Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show was halted in 2020 as, along with most events, it had fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, a Covid-secure version of the event is to take place on August 18 and 19, offering both a networking event for businesses and farmers and a day out for the family.

“We announce this decision during these dark days of lockdown with our best intentions at heart. The show for over a hundred years has brought together the community and celebrated the very best of the great British countryside. We bring you hope and optimism that better days will come,” said James Cox, show secretary and event organiser.

He said: “If you are a visitor we will provide you with a safe and enjoyable family day out this summer. As a farmer we will bring you back a networking event offering you the opportunity to meet buyers, suppliers, machinery dealers and of course fellow farmers after an isolated year.

“If you are a business currently struggling during lockdown we will reopen our gates this summer and put you, the producer, in contact with the consumer.”

The Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Society has been busy behind the scenes making sure the festivities can continue with or without Covid-19 restrictions, announcing plans for the show yesterday, January 25.

After assessing a number of options across the winter months and lockdown period, the charity decided this is why the event and its programme, including livestock and equine classes, needed to be divided across two days.

Other safety measures at Turnpike Showground will include a limited number of tickets on sale, no tickets available to purchase on the day, sanitising stations onsite, less marquees, wider avenues and strict cleaning protocols.

James continued: “While we hope like many that the vaccine rollout means normality resumes by August, we as a business and charity must be prepared for all eventualities and therefore have taken the only decision possible other than cancellation, one that allows us to ensure our return with or without Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing.

“The health and safety of our visitors, competitors, stewards, members and community are our highest priorities, you are the show."

James added that there will be a discounted rate for participating traders, to support both the running of the two-day spectacle and businesses affected by the pandemic.

He said: “The Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show has survived world wars, recessions and as many know the great British weather - 2021 we are certainly ready for you. We will continue to update you on planning over the coming months as we prepare for the safe and gradual reopening of the gates to the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show.”

Early bird tickets are now on sale, until April 30, at a discounted price of £11 each.

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