MID Wales has lost a “huge part of its social fabric” after being dealt a body blow with the news that the Royal Welsh Show will not go ahead this year.

Coronavirus has put a halt to the iconic agricultural festival for a second successive year after organisers announced on Wednesday, with “deep regret and careful consideration”, that the event will be postponed until 2022. May’s Smallholding and Countryside Festival will also not be going ahead in 2021.

It’s a cruel blow for the local area and economy, with many hoping that – even in the grip of a virus that earlier this week surpassed 100,000 UK deaths – light was at the end of the tunnel. The roll-out of the vaccine in Powys is going smoothly and with July still six months away, most people locally and the countless others nationwide who look forward to one of the country’s showpiece events, might have expected the Royal Welsh to go ahead – at least in some guise.

Local businessman, farmer and county councillor, David Price, said he was “bitterly sad” about the news, while Builth guesthouse owner Tony Tye said the cancellation would probably lead to he and his wife Sandra “writing off” 2021, just as they had been forced to do with 2020.

“It’s a devastating blow for the local community, the agricultural community and a huge economic blow,” said Councillor Price, who as well as representing the Llanafanfawr ward locally on Powys County Council, also runs a farm and camping site just outside Builth Wells.

“I’m very sad about the news. People locally were hoping we would have something to look forward to later in the year – especially with what we’ve all been through with coronavirus.

“The Royal Welsh is a huge part of the social fabric of Mid Wales. We love it, we look forward to it. As farmers we try to get the harvest done in time so we get to go and enjoy it.

“We won’t have seen some neighbours for large parts of the year, which is even more true because of the virus, so this year a celebration like the Royal Welsh was needed more than ever.”

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall meet members of the Zulu impi regiment during the 100th Royal Welsh Show at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 22, 2019. See PA story ROY


The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall meet members of the Zulu 'impi' regiment during the 100th Royal Welsh Show in 2019.

The news will send shockwaves around Builth, but also beyond, said Cllr Price. “The whole of Wales has ownership of this event, not just Builth Wells,” he added.

“We’re fortunate the Royal Welsh has a fantastic following. We need to help support the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society now so that when we get through these dark times we can make sure next year’s event will be the best ever.”

Cllr Price said the news of the Smallholding and Countryside Festival’s postponement was not a surprise, but he was stunned by the Royal Welsh being halted, saying he had hoped the situation would have been a lot brighter locally by the summer.

“With the Royal Welsh held in July I think everyone hoped it would still go ahead,” he said.

“Although, it’s a conundrum for the organisers and I understand that to organise and hold it safely would have been a huge task. I’m sure they didn’t come to the decision lightly.”

Mr Tye, who runs the Bronwye Guest House in the centre of Builth, said the litany of events held on the showground throughout the year, not just the Royal Welsh, were “intrinsic” to his business.

“It’s a blow for the entire area, not just us,” said Tony, who will be marking four years in Builth during Royal Welsh Show month later this year.

“We were considerably down on profits last year and wrote it off in the end. We’re probably going to have to do the same this year too.

“It’s not just the loss of the Royal Welsh. The shows start in March and are on throughout the year; the craft show, antiques show, horse show. We get other tourism too but that and the events on the showground are intrinsic elements to our business.

“If it takes out the rest of the events then that’s the whole year written off.”

A general view of the show ring at the Royal Welsh Show at Llanelwedd last year.

The showground has been acting as a mobile coronavirus test centre since the pandemic took hold last March, and earlier this month became Powys’ third Mass Vaccination Centre (MVC) alongside Newtown and Bronllys – so Tony said the subsequent announcement by the RWAS hasn’t come as a shock.

“With the arrival of the vaccination centre at the showground, it’s going to be there longer than July,” he added.

William Powell, the Welsh Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesperson and the party’s Senedd candidate for Brecon and Radnorshire, described the cancellation as a “grievous blow” to the Welsh farming community, while Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, Janet Finch-Saunders, called it “a sad day for rural communities in Wales”.