THIS year's Melplash Show has been cancelled, it has been announced.

Organisers said it was 'with great sadness' they must announce the cancellation on the 2021 event which was scheduled for Thursday, August 26.

The Melplash Show is one of the most-anticipated annual events in west Dorset and in 'pre-Covid' times, attracted as many as 20,000 visitors every year.

Earlier this year, the organising committee spoke of their desire to host an event in 2021 but said the situation would be reviewed.

Now in a message to traders, Show Secretary Lucy Hart said: "We have been monitoring matters very closely over the last few weeks, attempting to find out as much as we can regarding the proposed position for late August. This has included close liaison with The Association of Show & Agricultural Organisations, and discussions with our MP to find out what might happen with Covid restrictions going forward.

"Whilst recognising the wonderful news that our nationwide lockdown efforts and the arrival of vaccination does seem to be working, nevertheless, as Government has advised, we still need to be vigilant and with the serious spike in Covid in Europe we are still not immune as a nation against the virus appearing again.

"One of our biggest concerns is not being able to welcome a large enough number of visitors to our event due to restrictions imposed. The Government have advised that further advice on our type of event will not be forthcoming until mid-June, which is too close to show day for realistic planning to take place."

She added: "As a charity, we have a duty to manage our affairs prudently, and whilst accepting that some risk is inevitable, considering the current uncertainties the Directors have, very reluctantly and after considerable debate, decided that the 2021 Melplash Show must be cancelled. This decision follows similar positions taken by Dorset County Show, New Forest Show and most recently the Royal Cornwall Show.

"Whilst recognising that some shows have at the moment announced that they are still proceeding, the Directors have concluded that the risks for our show are too great to accept, and that we are better served by concentrating on the 2022 show."

The committee will be putting on events this year which fulfil its charitable aims ‘to improve the standards of agriculture in West Dorset and to educate the younger generation about the importance of agriculture, to enthuse and inspire them’.

Lucy Hart added: "The Directors are investigating how we can stage as many of the peripheral events as we can during the year including more webinars, the gardens competition, the farms and flock competitions, Young Farmers dairy stock judging and the hedging and ploughing match. We are also considering other related events which we feel confident we can organise as restrictions hopefully lift. Thanks to the support received from our members and sponsors we will be able to make bursary awards again this year and look forward to receiving applications in the coming weeks."

The Secretary concluded: "All the Directors, together with myself and Jasmine, are truly saddened in having to make this decision. Whilst recognising that this is no doubt a huge disappointment to you, the health of everyone is paramount and this will make us all even more determined to make the 2022 show the best ever.

"Thank you to all our traders who allowed us to hold their deposits and payments over the last year. If you would like to have these returned please do contact us in the office, alternatively they will be held in preparation for our 2022 show.

"Thank you for your continued support and understanding."