THE National Ploughing Association (NPA) executive has taken the difficult, but probably inevitable decision to cancel all National Ploughing Finals for 2020, with the exception of senior qualifier classes for 2021.
These include qualification for the World Ploughing Contest scheduled to be hosted in Ireland in September of next year. The qualifying classes have been postponed until October 6th, 7th and 8th, conditional on HSE and government recommendations at that time.
NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said that ‘the executive reached the decision to cancel the trade exhibition back in May in the hope that, by September, the national ploughing classes could go ahead behind closed gates, however as public health and safety is the NPA’s foremost priority and with the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the Association felt that the safest option for everyone involved was to cancel the competitions.
With visitor attendance last year of 297,000 and up to 1,700 exhibitors, the full event was not an option in the midst of a global pandemic.
Exhibitors, visitors and patrons have all expressed their disappointment with ‘no ploughing this year’ and the NPA, together with a number of associates, have planned a programme of online activations during what should have been ‘Ploughing Week’ starting on Monday, September 14th, with the Enterprise Ireland and NPA Innovation Awards, Exhibitor promotions and activations on the 15th, 16th and 17th and the Aldi, NPA and ICA National Brown Bread Baking Competition finals on September 17th. Follow #Ploughing2020.
With an annual economic impact reported to be in the region of €45 million the loss of this event is massively significant to the Irish economy, however the NPA are looking forward to September 2021 (15th, 16th, 17th and 18th), marking the 90th year of the NPA and Ireland will be hosting the World Ploughing Contest in tandem with the national finals.
Anna May McHugh said: ‘When lives are potentially at risk, then we all have to take stock and just limit our activities to an absolute minimum – we will see brighter days, please god, in 2021 and I look forward to getting back to “the ploughing” as we know it.’