The Hawke's Bay A&P Show has been cancelled just four weeks out from the big annual event that has been the great annual gathering of the region's rural and urban communities for almost 160 years.
The show was to have been held at the showgrounds in Hastings on October 20-22 and the cancellation follows decisions yesterday to cancel the Poverty Bay A&P Show which was to be held on October 15-16 the previous week and the Wairarapa A&P Show scheduled for October 29-30.
The Central Hawke's Bay A&P Society, which has its annual meeting tonight, is still planning to go ahead with its show in Waipukurau on November 12-13, although president David Poulton doubts it could go ahead in the Covid-19 Delta level 2 condition that have led to the other cancellations.
The cancellation of the Hawke's Bay Show, which had doubled as the New Zealand Royal Show from 2015 to 2020, was confirmed today by Hawke's Bay A&P Society president Simon Collin and general manager Sally Jackson.
In normal circumstances it could have attracted over 25,000 people, but the society says they're not normal circumstances and the continued Covid-19 Delta alert level 2 conditions meant that with safety the primary consideration a decision had to be made to avoid financial losses which would have occurred for the society and all its stakeholders had the decision been delayed.
Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay were among the few early-season A&P shows that did not cancel last year.
As one of the largest A&P shows in the country, the Hawke's Bay society executive committee met last night and after "significant consideration made the hard decision to cancel", said the president.
The organisation had no choice in the matter, he said.
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"Whilst the country is in differing levels of restrictions, and with Covid cases still appearing throughout the country, we cannot put anyone at risk by hosting a large gathering.
"We had to think of the wellbeing of our community and the society, and whilst we are incredibly disappointed, we know it is the right thing to do in this current environment," he said.
Jackson said the show, in its 158th year, had only previously cancelled during World War II and she, along with all of the volunteers, staff and key stakeholders were "extremely sad and disappointed not to be able to deliver this much-loved event".
"We know the show is much loved and that it resonates with the wider community of Hawke's Bay," she said.
"It has a significant and positive impact on the primary sector and the regional economy drawing hundreds of visitors into the Bay for the three days, with over 40 per cent of all competitors coming from outside of the region spending money on accommodation and hospitality.
"We are incredibly proud of how the Show unites the rural and urban population," she said. "Whilst the event cannot take place this year, it will absolutely be back bigger and better than before in 2022."
All of the cancelled shows have histories dating back more than a century, the Poverty Bay show having been first held in 1875. Hundreds of competitors attend all three shows each year.