Dairy farmer Peter Gilbert will miss the Canterbury show for the first time in 60 years

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Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Peter Gilbert has been to the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Show every year for all of his 60 years.

But this year’s show, now the New Zealand Agricultural Show, has been cancelled by Covid-19. There is no show for the first time since World War II.

The former past president was gutted but said it was a hard, but right decision. “So much work gets done, there is a lot of time, effort and money involved.”

He said making the decision to cancel six months out would save the association some money, making it easier to carry on and have shows in the future.

Mr Gilbert has been going to the show every year since he was born; he showed his first cow back in 1978, aged 19.

In the following years he has been a regular exhibitor, active committee member, past president and judge.

He said every year the committee, its board and even those within the event company were continually looking at ways to make the show better.

“Show week brings so many people to Canterbury. It’s a massive week. It will affect the whole country, not just Canterbury.”

Mr Gilbert has not shown his cows for the past two years due to Mycoplasma bovis, but was planning to this year.

“Obviously we won’t be. It will be strange that week, a bit of an empty feeling I’d say.”

Mr Gilbert said the show needed all the help it could get and the association was hopeful members would continue with their annual subscriptions. They had also started a funding campaign.

New Zealand Agricultural Show president Chris Herbert announced the cancellation with great sadness. “With over 500 volunteers and 2500 individual competitions, the New Zealand Agricultural Show is a symbol of community, history and heritage.”

He said all 2020 sponsors and trade exhibitors would get their money back or be given the option to support the show in 2021.

No decision has been made on the Ashburton A&P Show. Organisers hope to meet soon.

– by Toni Williams