The shows and events industries were undoubtedly one of the first to be affected by the outbreak of Covid-19.
All agricultural and technical events across 2020 and into 2021 were canceled or postponed, with uncertainty hanging over whether the remainder of this year would see any face-to-face events held at all in the UK.
But just as virtual event fatigue was reaching optimum levels at the thought of yet another Zoom meeting, there was light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Cereals 2021, Europe’s largest technical event for the arable industry.
And wasn’t it good for the soul, finally giving us an opportunity to satisfy our basic human need to interact.
After 16 months of ‘virtual this’ and ‘virtual that’, the HarperOnTour team was back on the road and doing what it does best.
There were some nerves and anxieties about attending a face-to-face event as Covid numbers began to rise once more, but they were far outweighed by the joy of being able to come together with colleagues and once again welcome people to the University’s stand at a major agricultural show.
Organisers of last week’s event held at Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire, should be commended for taking the bold step in being one of the first live events on the agricultural show calendar to be held since the pandemic hit.
They did a wonderful job of staging such a large event while complying with Covid safety practices but at the same time creating an environment that felt almost ‘normal’, whatever that is now!
The joy on the faces of both exhibitors and visitors was palpable and was heart-warming to see, a slice of normality in an ever-changed world.
The chance to once again speak face-to-face with eager young minds about the exciting opportunities available to them at Harper was an instant reminder as to why we do the job we do.
All the usual bells and whistles were available at the show including live demonstrations of the latest technology, trial plots and a packed schedule of expert speakers.
And the agricultural industry certainly threw its weight behind the event with more than 300 exhibitors and farmers flocking from across the country.
Ironically, despite restrictions on the event and concerns that turnout may not have been as high as in previous years, the University enjoyed one of the most successful Cereals in recent years with record-breaking enquiries and unprecedented attention from industry media.
While the impact of Covid-19 will change the way in which we work forever, and virtual and hybrid events will undoubtedly have their place in the future. You just can’t beat face-to-face events.
Let’s hope they are now back for good. See you at Great Yorkshire Show!
A guest blog from Sarah Swinnerton, Shows and Events Officer for Harper Adams University.