19 July 2002

OMENS ARE GOOD FOR

2002 ROYAL WELSH

Like almost all other shows,

last years Royal Welsh was

cancelled because of

foot-and-mouth. But there

are high hopes for a bumper

show next week, as our

Welsh correspondent

Robert Davies explains

ORGANISERS LOOK FORWARD TO GOOD SHOW

The cancellation of last

years show left the

organisers with a deficit

close to £0.5m. But

it could have been worse

CANCELLATION of the 2001 Royal Welsh Show and 74 other showground events left the Society with a trading deficit of over £460,000.

The financial position would have been worse if many of the 11,400 members had demanded the return of their subscriptions, and trade exhibitors had called in all the £420,000 charged for reserving space at the July show.

In fact, £287,000 of trade fees were left in place for the 2002 event, and only 438 members asked for their cash back. But it was inevitable that the loss of £1.5m in gate receipts would result in the first annual loss since 1974.

A plea for a £400,000 handout from the Welsh Assembly, which was based on independent figures indicating that activities on the showground are worth £30m/year to the rural economy of mid-Wales, was rejected.

Biosecurity measures

The 12th Winter Fair did go ahead with horses replacing cattle and sheep. Nevertheless, a record 11,417 people paid to attend, and the event turned in a surplus of income over expenditure of £88,486.

The omens are also good for this years show. All trade stand space was sold by the end of March, leaving over 100 applicants waiting for some of the 1000 successful ones to pull out. Livestock entries are down overall, but classes for 20 breeds of cattle will go ahead. There will be 130 dairy cattle and 505 beef animals, including 94 commercial cattle.

Some feared that the slaughter of a huge number of sheep flocks during the foot-and-mouth crisis and new biosecurity measures would have a big impact, but 1554 sheep are entered. With 181 entries, Texels will be the most numerous of the 42 breeds represented.

"Breeders and exhibitors have rallied to the cause," said David Walters, the societys chief executive. "Because of their support we shall once again be putting on a marvellous display of livestock."

But he and his staff have to cope with unwelcome extra problems, not least dealing with livestock movement regulations and disinfection of vehicles.

A dispute with the owners of land adjoining the show site has also forced organisers to rent additional off-lying fields for some car parking, caravans and tents. A fleet of shuttle buses will be used.

Also the society has always paid the cost of having police on the showground but, for the first time, it is to be charged for the policing of traffic approaching and leaving the event. Fees will be phased in over three years, so in 2002 it will pay only one-third of the anticipated £33,700 bill.

&#8226 Date: The 2002 Royal Welsh Show takes place on Mon July 22, Tues July 23, Wed July 24 and Thurs July 25.

&#8226 Venue: Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, near Builth Wells in Powys.

&#8226 Entry cost: £12 on the first three days and £11 on Thursday. Over 60s with proof of age pay £9, and children aged 4-16 are charged £2. Parking over the four-day event is free.

&#8226 Livestock highlights: Livestock judging is spread over the whole duration of the show. Highlights include the spectacular interbreed teams of five beef cattle on Tuesday and dairy cattle on Wednesday. The individual supreme beef animal is selected on Monday, and the top individual cow on Wednesday. The champion pig will also be selected that day, as will the sheep champion of champions, when the top animals from 42 breeds will be in contention. Main ring attractions include the Kings Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery and a special centenary display by the Welsh Pony and Cob Society.

&#8226 More details: 01982-553683 or www.rwas.co.uk

Main pic: Idyllic rural scene, but Wales was hit hard by foot-and-mouth last year. Above: More than 1500 sheep will be shown this year.