Show organisers plan to bring back the fun

‘THE shows will go on (hopefully)’ is the message from the organisers of five of Guernsey’s biggest annual events, which were either cancelled or changed drastically last year.

The Donkey Derby in 2019. (29412290)
The Donkey Derby in 2019. (29412290)

While all those contacted said that the details had not yet been finalised, meetings are due to be held in the next few weeks which will see events given the green light and, assuming the island’s borders stay open and Guernsey has not gone back into lockdown, entertainers from outside the island will be coming over to delight the crowds.

The first to take place will be the Rocquaine Regatta, which event president Jon Collenette said was planned to go ahead as normal.

While it was the only major event to take place in its usual form last summer, it was moved from its usual July slot to the beginning of September.

This year, Mr Collenette said it is booked to take place on 31 July.

All the traditional events are set to be included, even if the island’s borders are not opened by 1 July. ‘But we might even have visitors, you never know,’ said Mr Collenette.

Of the ‘big three’ summer shows, the South will as usual take place first, and this has been pencilled in for Friday 13 and Saturday 14 August at the St Martin’s Community Centre.

Committee president Mike Weysom said that it would not be as big as in some previous years, with less entertainment likely to be offered in the outdoor area.

‘We don’t know what Covid-19 restrictions there will be so we’re keeping it as simple as we can,’ he said, adding that a shortage of volunteer helpers was also an issue.

He hoped that the dog show would go ahead, but the main focus of the event will be indoors.

The West Show will take place on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 August, although committee member Linda

Norman said it will look rather different to usual.

Organisers are unable to source the tents they usually rent from the UK. A local firm has stepped in, but some of its large marquees are already booked out, said Mrs Norman.

‘Things might be in slightly different places,’ she said, which could confuse hardened attendees since the layout of the show has been the same for many years.

The committee is prepared for changes to be made if necessary, she said, and there is a ‘plan B’ in place should restrictions be re-imposed.

Another major event that fell victim to the pandemic last year was the Battle of Flowers, but North Show manager Josh Gabriel said it should be back this year. ‘We’ve got a meeting on Monday and hopefully we’ll be able to finalise our plans,’ he said.

While previously relying on rented tents from the UK, this year the committee has sourced all of its needs locally.

The show celebrates its 100th year this year.

‘We are going all out,’ said Mr Gabriel. ‘Covid permitting, we will have a bumper year of entertainment and music from the UK coming over.

‘The Battle of Flowers is going ahead as planned and we are still working with flower providers who are all based in Europe, although to be fair the vast

majority of floats nowadays are paper flowers.

‘I know some families have been busy making flowers over lockdown.’

Last of the major summer shows will be the Donkey Derby, which is planned for 21 August.

Last year the restrictions meant the donkeys could not get here, and as a result the event joined with the North Show for a successful ‘Guernsey Together’ special in Saumarez Park.

Lions Club committee member Paul Allaway said plans were well in hand.

‘We need to look a bit further into it, but Saumarez Park has already been booked,’ he said. ‘We’ve had correspondence with the donkey people in the UK and they’re happy to come over – obviously, subject to any Covid restrictions.’

The club is also looking to take some elements of the Guernsey

Together event and add them into this year’s derby.

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