Traditional shearing competitions season-opener, the New Zealand Merino Shears has been cancelled this year, as organisers work to mark its 60th anniversary post-Covid in style in 2021.
The championships in Alexandra were to have been held on October 2-3.
The NZ Merino Shears usually attracts over 100 shearers and woolhandlers and is the only fine wool competition on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar of almost 60 shows each summer.
The cancellation has also led to the axing of the 2020-2021 National Shearing Circuit, of which Alexandra has been the traditional compulsory opening round.
It also impacts on the annual home-and-away transtasman series, with the two competitions providing two of the three shearers in the New Zealand team each summer.
Incorporating a final for the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown at the Golden Shears each March since 1973, the circuit had already been hit by the cancellation of this year's New Zealand Agricultural Show which would have staged third-round event the New Zealand Corriedale Championships.
The cancellation of the Alexandra event was confirmed by New Zealand Merino Shearing Society chairman Greg Stuart who said it was "due to the pandemic".
The Covid-19 crisis has had severe impacts, as it had across the country and the world, he said, and his committee "needed to make the call" about an event which runs on a budget of up to $50,000 – at a time when the lockdown made negotiations almost impossible.
The committee didn't want to "embarrass" or pressure anyone and decided it wanted to guarantee still being around for the 60th year, particularly for the sake of those who had supported the event over the years.
"Some of them have been with us from way back," Stuart said.
"Earnscleugh Station (the sheep suppliers) have been there the whole 60 years. That's a feat to be celebrated in itself".
In making its decision, the committee set July 6 for a brainstorming-session to start planning the 2021 championships.
The National Shearing Circuit committee is also due to meet in the next fortnight to consider the possibilities as the event heads to the celebration of its first 50 years, including the last 18 known as the PGG Wrightson National.
PGG Wrightson Wool have been sponsors at all five shows in the circuit, along with providing the major prize of a year's use of a Hyundai Santa Fe for the winner, currently Marlborough shearer Angus Moore, who won this year's final less than three weeks before the Covid-19 lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Waimate Shears, which would have included the second round of the circuit, will is "definitely" on October 9-10, said chairman Warren White.
Canterbury show shearing organisers are considering still staging their championships, in a woolshed at the station which provides its sheep.
Later in the season, the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton in February, which would have been the fourth round, will be held on a Sunday as shows avoid a clash caused by the timing of Waitangi Day.
It will provide three competitions within three days with Dannevirke A and P Show on a Friday (February 5), the Aria Waitangi Day Sports on the Saturday (February 6) and the Rangitikei event on February 7.