BUSINESS owners have spoken of their ‘devastation’ after Dorset County Show was cancelled for the second year running due to uncertainty amid the Covid pandemic.

Organisers of the extravaganza said they have taken the ‘regrettable decision’ to cancel the show, which was set to take place on September 4 and 5 at Cokers Frome Farm, north of Dorchester.

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Picture: Dorset EchoPicture: Dorset Echo

A series of smaller events will now be held throughout the year, including a tractor run, food and craft market, dedicated equine show and sheep dog trials.

The event annually attracts around 60,000 visitors and aims to promote Dorset’s renowned agricultural industry as well as the county’s range of high-quality food and craft producers.

Nigel Jelfs, who runs Noddy’s Cider in Dorchester, said: “The show is a main staple for our business. It’s devastating to hear the show has been cancelled again because it’s how we make our money and survive, but I understand the decision for safety has to be made.

“To not have these shows running is killing business because relying on shipping everything online has become expensive. We rely heavily on these shows - they are our bread and butter. The show would allow us to exhibit new products too.”

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Scenes from a previous show prior the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Dorset EchoScenes from a previous show prior the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Dorset Echo

Di Davies, who owns Alpha Alpacas in Melplash, said: “I’m extremely disappointed because we have exhibited at the show for the past 15 years.

“I would move heaven and earth to attend it again.

“It’s all about one-to-one interaction when selling alpacas. I’m only interested in the welfare of my stock, and shows provide a platform for that.”

Mayor of Dorchester, Richard Biggs, said: “I’m very disappointed of the cancellation but it was not unexpected.The event is a big deal for the county town and for villages from miles around. 

“I went there first to the old show ground as a very young child and it has been a privilege to goes as mayor on two previous occasions.”

A spokesman for the show said organisers will provide alternative events in 2021, but ‘do not know exact dates or locations at present’.

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Scenes from a previous show prior the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Dorset EchoScenes from a previous show prior the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Dorset Echo

Nicki Ralph, Chair of the Dorset County Show, said: “We’ve made the regrettable decision not to hold the Dorset County Show this year, due to the uncertainties surrounding Covid-19 restrictions.

“Planning for the 2021 show began in 2020 and we have now reached a critical stage for confirming various elements including contractors and suppliers.

“Although the vaccination programme is progressing well and the Government announced its roadmap to recovery, we appreciate things may still be subject to change.

The safety and welfare of everyone involved in the show remains our top priority and we’ll therefore be focusing our efforts on hosting a series of ‘alternative events’ for 2021 in place of our flagship show.

“Our new programme of events allows us to celebrate Dorset agriculture and local produce through a smaller scale format, to ensure health and safety standards are sufficiently managed. We look forward giving the public an opportunity to enjoy many elements they know and love from the Dorset County Show.

"Planning preparations for 2022 will also kick off towards the end of this year, so we’ll be working hard to bring back our main event in its fullest form next year.”

Swanage and Wareham Voice: Scenes from a previous show prior the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Dorset EchoScenes from a previous show prior the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Dorset Echo