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Suffolk: Bad weather ‘hit revenue and attendance at 2013 Suffolk Show’

10:41 04 February 2014

Rain failed to dampen the spirits of those who went to the 2013 Suffolk Show, but many potential show-goers stayed away.

Rain failed to dampen the spirits of those who went to the 2013 Suffolk Show, but many potential show-goers stayed away.

Archant

Poor weather took its toll on revenues from the 2013 Suffolk Show, with attendance and the event down by about 10,000 on expectations over the two days.

Although overall takings were considerably higher than in the previous year, when high winds caused the shock cancellation of the second day of the event, last year’s numbers through the gate at the annual county showcase totalled only around 75,000, compared with a five-year average of about 85,000, making a sizeable dent in budget predictions.

A report reveals that show organisers the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) experienced mixed fortunes last year, with tradestand spaces well subscribed, sponsorship at a record high and livestock entries strengthened, but takings at the gate down as some potential show-goers stayed away due to the miserable weather.

SAA’s annual report, which will be considered at the association’s annual general meeting on February 24, revealed show income was £1.13million last year, which compared well with the one-day exceptional event in 2012, when takings amounted to just £778,000.

Organisers were hoping to dispel the financial gloom cast by the 2012 event, but the 2013 show made less than in either 2011, when it generated £1.263m, or nearly 11% less, and 2010, when it made £1.226m, or a fall of nearly 8%.

Executive director Chris Bushby explained that in the run-up to the event, the SAA had been hitting or exceeding targets despite the disappointments of the previous year, but show attendance was always at the mercy of prevailing weather conditions.

“When you get cold, wet weather you don’t get the attendance. It’s a high risk business,” he said. “It was that one single factor. All the other bits were either above their budget or hit their targets, which is good because you are never sure how it (the cancellation) is going to affect the brand.”

The disappointing weather meant that where the organisation was looking at underwriting the event by about £60,000, that figure soared to around £277,000, he said.

“The show is very important to the Suffolk economy and as an association we have kept underwriting the show. That’s quite right – it’s one of our charitable objectives,” said Mr Bushby.

But he added: “It’s very disappointing and frustrating for the whole team behind us, especially the volunteers, who are giving up hundreds of hours on the county show and when it’s inclement it’s disappointing and it’s disappointing for the team in the office.”

New SAA chairman Robert Rous was upbeat about the show’s performance, which also experienced some welcome highs.

“We enjoyed a wonderful Suffolk Show which reassured those worried by the disappointment of the gale in 2012 with record levels of sponsorship, excellent entries in livestock and equine and full tradestands. In its centenary year Claas made a major return to the show and food and agriculture provided the core to the tradestands.

“Of course the weather was disappointing but those who came had a great day which reinforces our determination to encourage people to buy their tickets early and come regardless,” he said. “These are unprecedented financially testing times and exercising financial restraint, without compromising quality or value, is essential.”

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