Great Yorkshire Show director on the 'joyous moment' of being able to say they are planning for the 2021 event

For the tens of thousands of visitors who descend on the sprawling site of the Great Yorkshire Showground each July, it is an announcement to buoy their spirits.

Charles Mills, the honorary director of the Great Yorkshire Show

Following the decision to cancel England’s largest rural showpiece last summer, organisers of the Great Yorkshire Show confirmed yesterday (Mar 1) that the event will take place this year.

The 162nd show will begin in Harrogate on Tuesday, July 13, and officials from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society said they plan to stage it over the usual three days.

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However, Charles Mills, the honorary show director, told The Yorkshire Post that the time-frame to organise the event had been dramatically cut back and the exact form of this summer’s show would depend on the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Speaking from his 500-acre farm at Appleton Roebuck near York, Mr Mills said: “We hope the show will be back to as normal as it can be, but there are a lot of discussions that need to take place.

“We are approaching things cautiously, and the most important thing of all is the safety of the visitors and all the people who are involved in putting on the show.

“But it is a joyous moment to be able to say that we are planning to put the show on. So many people are craving some sort of normality, and the Great Yorkshire Show means so much to so many people.”

A planning meeting is due to be held today (Mar 2) for organisers after trustees of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society met at the end of last week when the decision was taken that the show will be staged this summer.

That decision was announced at 2pm yesterday (Mar 1), meaning that the year-long planning for the Great Yorkshire Show will now be condensed into four-and-a-half months.

Mr Mills, however, did reveal preliminary discussions had been taking place behind the scenes since the end of September last year, although detailed planning will now begin following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday last week for the so-called road-map out of the lockdown.

Mr Mills said: “We do think social distancing will still be in place, but the show is staged over a huge site and it is obviously outdoors as well, so that does help. We need to have more talks, and there is a huge amount of work to be done before July.

“But we have such a dedicated group of people who are involved in organising the show, it is a real honour to be working alongside them.”

Last year’s show was cancelled in full for the first time since the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.

Covid-19 restrictions meant the event could not go ahead, although a three-day virtual show was staged online and offered farm tours, workshops and events with food producers, attracting viewers from more than 40 countries.

The show in 2019 saw 135,095 visitors attend, just short of the record set in 2006 when 135,111 people went to the event.