Downturn proves final straw as Royal Show forced to close

A major event for growers and farmers is to close after its 160th anniversary, following industry and economic turmoil.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England said this year's Royal Show in July would be the last in its present form at Stoneleigh Park.

Chairman of trustees Hugh Oliver-Bellasis said response to the show in recent years left the society with very little option. He broke the news to members in a letter recently.

Foot and mouth in 2001 followed by bad weather two years ago and blue tongue last year had hit finances and visitor numbers.

"Today's dire worldwide economic crisis is an added challenge. We have concluded the Royal Show is no longer economically viable.

"But we have decided to go ahead with this year's event, the 160th Royal Show and the 46th at Stoneleigh Park."

Oliver-Bellasis said the society would create a new programme of events next year to "develop and enhance" its reputation.

"The Royal Show has been unique in its international and local influence, combining business with entertainment."

The society aimed to "extract the best and most appropriate elements" of the show, which may become technical events.

"We don't want people to dwell on the demise of the Royal Show, but focus on the innovative events we will deliver in 2010 and beyond.

"We want you to see this moment as a watershed; the beginning of feeling re-engaged again with a society that listens and hears the call of its audience."

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