The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association review of annual national conference

The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) hosted the annual conference of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO), the voice of the UK agricultural show industry, from 13th-15th  November 2015.

Greg Smith the RNAA’s Chief Executive said it was an enjoyable and successful event and the 150 delegates.

“It was a great privilege hosting this year’s ASAO conference in Norfolk.  The delegates enthusiastically took part in the exciting programme of speakers and panel sessions on topics that affect our industry at both the strategic and tactical levels.”

Outside the formalities, delegates had plenty of opportunities to share experiences, which are particularly important to this industry and enjoyed some fantastic Norfolk food and drink.

Commenting on the general state of the industry, he added “It’s a busy marketplace and though it’s tough, keeping a finger on the pulse and offering visitors a value for money, quality experience is an ongoing challenge for agricultural shows, fairs and country events. The industry conference offers a unique opportunity to do just that.”

According to industry figures, six million people visit agricultural and country shows in the UK annually, approximately 10% of the population.

This large number of visitors enjoy more than 400 days of ASAO members’ organised events each year, ranging from major national and county shows, as well as specialist agricultural, horticultural, equine and country sports shows.

The countryside is big news too. In 2014 the BBC reported that country and agricultural shows were making a comeback and the number of visitors had risen in the last 10 years.

The RNAA is interested in exploring the reasons for this apparent resurgence and discuss how show programming can appeal to a broader audience.

Delegates had a tour of the Norfolk Showground and listened to keynote speakers as part of the conference. The RNAA hosted 400,000 people at events at its venue in 2014. The flagship event, the Royal Norfolk Show again attracted more than 80,000 visitors and recorded increased entries overall as well as record temperatures.

Greg Smith added: “It takes a careful blend of skill, knowledge, judgement, organisation and anticipating visitors’ needs to get a show right. The perfect balance of agriculture, entertainment and education is hard to achieve, but if done well, results in a really enjoyable day out for all, while maintaining an important part of our heritage.”