The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland has confirmed that a live showcase will go ahead behind closed doors.
Taking place week commencing June 14, the showcase will see the best in livestock judging, equestrian, food and drink and rural skills and will be livestreamed from the showground in Edinburgh to a global audience.
The announcement follows detailed planning in collaboration with the Scottish Government so as to develop an event that highlights 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.
Work will continue in the run up to the event to ensure that strict Covid-19 protocols are in place. Scottish Government funding of up to £750,000 will be provided to support the event, protecting the long-term sustainability of the Royal Highland Show and recognising its key role as a vehicle for education and cultural promotion of the Scottish rural and agricultural industries.
RHASS Chairman, Bill Gray said: ‘This year’s showcase will give us a fantastic opportunity to bridge the gap between a no-show year in 2020 and the 180th Royal Highland Show celebration in 2022, the bicentennial anniversary of our very 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. This Showcase will enable us to shine a light on our farmers and rural communities, who have been steadfast throughout this pandemic and allow us the opportunity to promote rural Scotland to a wider audience.’
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: ‘The Royal Highland Show is an important annual event in the farming and rural calendar. While it’s a shame that we cannot meet in the usual way, I am looking forward to being able to recognise the hard work of the entrants and celebrate their achievements at the showcase, albeit via livestream.
‘It’s key that we all continue to follow the rules in order to fight this virus. 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.’
Amongst those backing the Royal Highland Showcase are sector organisations including Scotland Food & Drink, QMS, the Scottish Association of Young Farmer Clubs and RSABI.
SAYFC chief executive, Penny Montgomery said: ‘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.’
Nina Clancy, RSABI chief executive, added: ‘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 June 14 will be a huge boost to morale.’
John Yates, chief executive of the British Texel Sheep Society, said: “The Texel Sheep Society wishes RHASS every success with this Showcase. With ever changing legislation surrounding social distancing and other related Covid-19 restrictions, getting this event off the ground has clearly taken a considerable amount of time and planning. The Texel Society fully supports the event and wishes all those connected with it, and competing at it, the best of luck in making this the unique celebration of Scottish agriculture it deserves to be.’
Bill Gray concluded: ‘This event will see Scotland’s agricultural industry taking centre stage as the country re-emerges from this dark time. It will be a tremendous Showcase of everything that RHASS champions, from equestrian to technical innovation, Scotland’s finest produce to sheep-shearing, forestry to farriery and of course the finest livestock.
‘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.
‘Scottish Government support will enable us to deliver a fantastic Showcase and provide a legacy of digital innovation and global reach for the future.’
Details of the event will be released over the coming days.