Organisers of the first-ever Royal Highland Showcase hope to attract a global audience and new interest in the Scottish farming community when the virtual event kicks off on Monday (14 June).
The physical Royal Highland Show, which usually attracts 200,000 visitors each year, was cancelled for a second year running this June due to the ongoing safety concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) says its week-long showcase from 14-20 June aims to capture the best bits of the show and bring the sights and sounds of the Ingliston showground in Edinburgh into the homes of audiences at home and abroad.
“Our farmers never stopped through the pandemic, and neither will we,” said RHASS chairman Bill Gray.
“We know how much the show means to our members, the wider agricultural community and the show-going public.
“This innovative event will act as a bridge between the no-show year of 2020 and the planned 180th show in 2022 – the bicentennial anniversary of our very first show.
“I’d encourage everyone to log on for what will be a truly unique showcase of the best rural that Scotland has to offer, wherever you are in the world.”
The RHASS says it has been “spurred on” to host the online event after receiving more than 1,100 entries for the showing and judging of livestock.
The best in livestock judging, equestrian, food and drink and rural skills will be streamed live and in high definition from the Ingliston showground in Edinburgh to a global audience online.
All online access will be free, and with four live streams providing nine hours of action on each of the seven days on the website.
Those who are unable to watch the footage live will be able to catch up later with an on-demand facility.
The showcase will give the audience an unprecedented view of the finest livestock in Scotland and also provide a greater insight into the world of judging than has been possible before.
Educational content from the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) will include engaging videos, suggested activities to do at home or the classroom, a teacher-focused webinar, and meeting their volunteers. More than 5,000 schoolchildren have already signed up to participate in the showcase direct from their classrooms.
‘Hats off to organisers’
Martin Kennedy, president of National Farmers Union Scotland, told Farmers Weekly, said the online event would be “the next best thing” to the physical show.
“Of course, it’s massively disappointing that it’s not a physical show. We are raring to get back to that because it’s such a social event,” said Mr Kennedy.
“This will be a showcase of Scottish agriculture across the UK and beyond.
“I think this year is the next best thing. It’s still allowing people to get back into showing.
“It will not be the same, but it will be as good as we could have possibly hoped for.
“Hats off to them [organisers]. I’m sure they will try to pull out the stops to produce something given the circumstances.”