Thinking Differently; County Shows go virtual

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

Why going virtual is becoming the new showground for much loved county shows

At Muddy Matches we always look forward to county show season with excitement. For many, the coming together at showgrounds to celebrate all aspects of agriculture, rural life and country pursuits is a mainstay in the social calendar; a chance to reacquaint with contacts, and indulge in shared passions and interests.

They are, quintessentially, the beating heart of muddy love.

This season, whilst many of the usual show goers remain out in the fields working to keep the nation going whilst others are locked down, Coronavirus restrictions have put paid to physical events and dismantled the events schedule.

Showgrounds will remain closed with no sign of a phased re-opening date. However, show organisers are thinking differently – and virtual celebrations are now sprouting online to engage supporters.

This weekend sees the Virtual Royal Three Counties Show celebrating life in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. It is one of the nation’s largest county shows, typically attracting over 100,000 visitors across 3 days. This year, the centuries-old show will go online for the first time in its history, offering a ‘bumper crop of farming, food and family fun’.

Organisers insist they will digitally deliver the agricultural show experience from the comfort of your home.

“Visitors to the website will be able to gain access to all the sections they’re interested in; whether it’s agriculture, equestrian, rural industries, gardening, farriery, falconry or family fun” says Head of Shows, Diana Walton.

“We’re really excited about the programme that we’ve put together, which champions everything we’re about.

There’s a virtual show ring main arena with virtual performances from the Red Devils Parachute Display Team, Galloping Acrobatics, and a freestyle motocross team lined up to feature on 360 first person video.

A virtual sheep shearing contests, virtual young handlers competitions, a gardening hub full of advice, and a live, digital farm walk and live chat with the Rare Breed Survival Trust will add to the experience. 400 trade stands, championing local business and celebrating the counties keen supporters, investing into the delivery of the show online, will be afforded digital shout-outs throughout.

Organisers also think the move online, whilst enforced, alongside free access, could well tempt a new audience to take a new look. Their confidence is backed up by recent experience; their online showing of the RHS Malvern Spring Festival attracted more than 91,000 viewers from 62 countries with the majority of those watching new to the website.

“Our society have been going for more than 200 years and we refuse to let anything beat us, including Coronavirus, adds Diana Walton. “One thing that’s coming through really clearly is this overwhelming feeling of goodwill and support,”

Check out the Virtual Royal Three Counties show (12 June – 14 June) here.

Muddy Matches will endeavour to keep you updated on other county shows that go online throughout the coming weeks.