Royal Highland Show organisers have received £750,000 in government support to host a live-streamed showcase of agriculture in June.
The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society (RHASS), which organises the four-day event, was forced to cancel this year’s show due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
The show had been scheduled to take place on June 17-20 at Ingliston on the outskirts of Edinburgh, however a behind-closed-doors event will now take place on the week beginning June 14.
RHASS said the showcase, which will be live-streamed, will feature the best in livestock judging, equestrian, food and drink, and rural skills.
It will be backed by £750,000 in funding from the Scottish Government – funding RHASS says will protect the long-term sustainability of the Royal Highland Show.
“This year’s showcase will give us a fantastic opportunity to bridge the gap between a no-show year in 2020 and the 180th Royal Highland Show celebration in 2022 – the bicentennial anniversary of our very first show,” said RHASS chairman Bill Gray.
“The support we have garnered from the wider agricultural sector, coupled with Scottish Government funding, reinforces the importance of the Royal Highland Show.”
He added: “This showcase will enable us to shine a light on our farmers and rural communities, who have been steadfast throughout this pandemic and allow us the opportunity to promote rural Scotland to a wider audience.”
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing welcomed the plans for an online event in June.
He said: “While it’s a shame that we cannot meet in the usual way, I am looking forward to being able to recognise the hard work of the entrants and celebrate their achievements at the showcase, albeit via livestream.
“It’s key that we all continue to follow the rules in order to fight the virus. I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to see progress and that next year we will be able to mark the 180th Royal Highland Show and bicentennial anniversary of the first show together in person.”
The plans were backed by various industry bodies including rural charity RSABI and the British Texel Sheep Society.
RSABI chief executive, Nina Clancy, said: “It has been an incredibly difficult time and we all desperately need something to look forward to.
“Celebrating the best of farming and rural Scotland the week of June 14 will be a huge boost to morale.”
British Texel Sheep Society chief executive, John Yates, said: “The Texel Society fully supports the event and wishes all those connected with it, and competing at it, the best of luck in making this the unique celebration of Scottish agriculture it deserves to be.”
RHASS said more details about the event will be released in the coming days.