Shock announcement leaves show organisers uncertain about future

Attempts are likely to be made to find a venue for a livestock and farming event at the end of this year following last week's shock announcement that the Smithfield Show planned for December has been cancelled.

Trustees of the Royal Smithfield Club (RSC), which has co-owned the Show with the Agricultural Engineeers Association (AEA), will be meeting over the coming weeks to consider options. RSC chief executive Geoff Burgess, who last year was appointed to head this year's Show team, said "Looking forward we are now seeking the best way to preserve the strength of the Royal Smithfield for both the livestock sector and the farming industry in new, more affordable form."

The high costs associated with staging an indoor London event have been largely blamed for the demise of the Smithfield Show, which had been the main winter event in the agricultural calendar since 1799 although for the last 10 years it has run only every two years.

At the time the decision was taken to axe this year's Show only 35 per cent of available stand space had been booked.

A spokesman said of the future "It's a blank canvas but it is highly unlikely that anything will rise from the ashes that features livestock and machinery together. Sad days is what a lot of people have been saying but it's probably inevitable."

In a letter to RSC members chairman John Coultrip summed up the reason for the end of the present Show. 'As we all know the agricultural industry is under enormous pressure and the number of people directly involved is getting less every year. For the major machinery companies their customer base is decreasing even faster, which is why many are reviewing the way in which they promote their equipment - technical events, dealer shows, open days and dedicated manufacturers' events.'

The focus now will most likely be to find a venue and platform to promote the livestock aspect of the Show, possibly incorporating a carcase competition. RSC deputy president, William Cumber, said: "The supreme primestock championships have been a well loved and popular feature of the Smithfield Show and will be sorely missed on the winter fair calendar. The RSC will be working very hard to find other ways to promote primestock championships."