Festival prime stock event dropped by Royal Smithfield Club

The Royal Smithfield Club will not run its Festival prime stock event at the East of England Showground at Peterborough in November following a sustained drop in attendance and competition entries.

The Club’s withdrawal marks the end of its seven-year partnership with the East of England Agricultural Society. It said that, while the Society had successfully created a Winter Fair in Eastern England - with one of the largest Winter Calf shows in the country and a College Challenge not equalled anywhere else in the UK - on the prime stock side the Club itself had not been able to deliver the numbers of livestock exhibitors, sponsors or trade stands from around the UK.

In a letter to members, the Club said it had been noticeable how the number of Club members from key livestock areas attending the event had fallen each year, and the number taking part in the competitions had fallen even more.

The Trustees have therefore decided not to continue with the partnership as it did not meet its own charitable objectives. As a result the Club is appealing to its members for any ideas or suggestions for the way forward.

Geoff Burgess, the Club’s honorary secretary said: “We have enjoyed working with the Society, however, the Royal Smithfield Club has a broad remit that extends from the breeding of all classes of livestock through to delivering public benefit to the consumer. It is clear that the East of England Agricultural Society now has the resources and expertise to run a successful primestock event, which frees the Club to develop other initiatives.

The East of England Agricultural Society said the split had been amicable and confirmed it would run its own East of England Winter Primestock Festival in late November.

The Royal Smithfield Club, originally the Smithfield Cattle and Sheep Society, was founded in 1798 following a meeting at Smithfield Market, London, to improve and promote the breeding of cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and other livestock. It has been responsible for primestock and carcase competitions, and technical demonstrations, at events across the UK.

Prior to its seven years at the East of England Showground it ran its Festival for four years at the Royal Bath and West Showground in Somerset and once at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire. From 1949 until 2004 it staged huge shows at Earls Court in London, an event which became known as ‘the country comes to town’.

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