For the second year running The New Zealand Agricultural Show – previously known as the Canterbury A&P Show – has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Some smaller events and competitions will go head, but with no public in attendance. There will also be some online activities to keep people engaged with The Show. Details of online events, running from 10 to 12 November, will be finalised shortly and will be available at online.theshow.co.nz.
“We’re hugely disappointed but we have no option, given that there’s no indication when we will come out of Alert Level 2,’’ says Stewart Mitchell, Chair of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association (CAPA) Board.
“We simply can’t have large crowds accumulating and enjoying the Show as they normally do. We worked through a variety of options to see if we could make it work, but with only 35 days to go, it’s not viable.”
The organisers of The Show and ChristchurchNZ requested the Government allow the outdoor event to be a trial for a COVID-19 vaccine certificate programme, but were unable to get approval within the timeframe required.
“The Show costs around $1 million to stage each year and requires a 12-month lead in time. Much of the cost is committed in the lead in to the Show at the start of October and we just can’t take the risk in the hope of a drop to Level 1. Hope is not a good strategy,’’ Mr Mitchell says.
“We know this will be a huge let down for the 100,O00 people who normally attend The Show and we promise to be back stronger and better than ever next year.’’
In August, Christchurch City Council agreed to provide CAPA a loan of up to $1 million if The Show had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
Mr Mitchell says the Board is incredibly grateful to the Council for the safety net of that loan. It will need to draw down a portion of it to meet the significant financial costs that it has incurred this year.
“We also want to thank our key sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers, committees, staff and board who have worked tirelessly to stay with us as we have navigated this COVID nightmare.’’
ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive Joanna Norris says the cancellation of The Show will impact on both the urban and rural economies as the city will miss out on the spending of the estimated 100,000 people who normally attend and the many rural businesses who trade at The Show will lose a major retail opportunity.
In the coming weeks, several other event organisers will be considering the feasibility of their events.
“The Government’s health-based approach to COVID-19 is essential and we absolutely support it. However, businesses and the major events sector need a clear outline of the pathway to lower alert levels in the South Island,” Ms Norris says.
“Protecting the lives of New Zealanders is of primary importance, however, sustaining safe community and economic activity in the South Island is also of huge importance. It has been more than 300 days since the South Island has a COVID-19 community case and Alert Level 2 continues to severely impact businesses and community.
“Businesses need transparency around alert level decision-making for the South Island, providing more confidence and enabling informed decision-making for businesses and events,” Ms Norris says.