The ongoing uncertainty of the Covid-19 crisis has led to the Hawke's Bay A & P Society again relinquishing the Royal Show status for its big event this year.
Society general manager Sally Jackson said rather than be a Royal Show, as it had been since 2014 apart from the pandemic-related downsizing last year, the show at the Tomoana showgrounds, Hastings, on October 20-22 would be a "strong provincial show".
Hawke's Bay has a contract with the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) for rights to the Royal Show, effectively a national championship of showing classes, up to the 2021 show.
A and P show societies are among the longest-standing organisations of any sort in New Zealand.
The first A and P show was in the Bay of Islands in 1842 and the Auckland A and P Society was established the following year.
The first Hawke's Bay show was in 1863, and the first show accorded the Royal Show status was the Manawatū show in 1924.
For most of the Royal Show history it alternated among five shows: in Palmerston North, Hastings, Christchurch, Invercargill and Hamilton.
In 2010 the rights turned to a bid process, and the Royal Show was held in Christchurch, Hamilton and Feilding, each with financial issues before Hawke's Bay was awarded the rights to the Royal Show from 2015, in the aftermath of the success of its 150th anniversary show two years earlier.
Jackson said staging the Royal Show has significant extra costs, and it was a "huge risk" with the continuation of the uncertainty that prevailed last year when the society had to make an early decision on the best options depending on what Covid19 alerts might be in place at the time of the event.
The options had been to plan for the full Royal Show, downsizing to a "strong provincial show" or a competitors only show, as there was no certainty about what restrictions might apply on the day.
"We'd love the Royal Show to occur again this year," she said, "but it's hard to take on that financial risk in this environment."
Plans are now being made for a big fortnight including the Hawke's Bay Wine Awards at the showgrounds on October 14, while the show will have some spinoff from the first Beef+Lamb NZ Awards being held in Napier on the opening day of the show. It stems from the Sheep Industry Awards which were first held in 2012, held in Napier in 2014, and last held in 2017.
RAS chief executive officer Debbie Cameron said the society, which has 96 affiliated shows and events nationwide, is currently carrying out a review of Royal shows and events, but Royal Event status has been awarded for the Central Otago A and P Show's home industries classes in February next year and the Hawarden A and P Show's sheep section in North Canterbury a few weeks later.
Two lower North Island shows had Royal Event status for sections in their shows during the summer: the dairy, beef and pig sections at the Stratford A and P Show last November and the Horowhenua A.P. and I. Show's sheep and home industries sections in January.
The Hawke's Bay show is the first of five A and P shows in Hawke's Bay each summer. It will be followed by the Central Hawke's Bay show in Waipukurau from November 11 to 13, the Wairoa show from January 13 to 15, and the Dannevirke District show from February 3 to 5.