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Nairn asks 'no-show for summer events?'

By Donald Wilson

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Nairn Highland Games is an annual spectacle which attracts thousands of people.
Picture: Kenny Macleod
Nairn Highland Games is an annual spectacle which attracts thousands of people. Picture: Kenny Macleod

Decisions over whether two of the area’s most valuable annual events for the local economy will go ahead in 2021 are expected within weeks.

Despite announcements that two Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out across the UK, Nairnshire Farming Society’s annual show in July and Nairn Highland Games in August look unlikely to go ahead.

Both major summer events in Nairn fell victim to the pandemic last year.

Organisers of both events – which attract thousands of people – are now consulting with their committees and public agencies about the possibility of the events making a comeback.

Officials of both organisations have confirmed they expect to reach a decision within a few weeks – but they acknowledge that the chances of them happening are unlikely.

Stuart Farrell, the Nairn Games secretary, said he trying is to reach a decision with the event’s committee.

“We were meant to have our AGM this month but we couldn’t due to Covid,” he said. “We don’t want to cancel too early but it’s increasingly unlikely it will happen.

“Public safety has to come first and the decision may be taken out of our hands anyway.

“No licences are being issued by the Scottish Athletics Council for events but we still need Highland Council’s and police permission to have the massed pipe bands parade.

“The other issue is the bands haven’t been practising, athletics clubs haven’t been training and many of our judges are getting older and some may, rightly so, decide they don’t want to put their health at risk.”

Mr Farrell said he hopes a decision will be reached within a few weeks.

Games chairwoman Sandra Ross, who was a founder member of Nairn and District Amateur Athletics Club some 40 years ago, had hoped the 2020 games would have been her swansong.

She has been games chairwoman for 14 years and steered it through some challenging times.

“It takes many months to prepare and organise the games and with the disease still spreading and no end in sight, I still don’t see us being able to go ahead,” she said.

Nairnshire Farming Society’s committee also still has to come to a decision about its show in July.

“This would be the 201st year of the show,” said show secretary Claire Cameron.

“It developed from a seed and root show to the large-scale event embracing all aspects of the agricultural and rural communities it is today.

“But we have not made any decision yet and we will be consulting over the next few weeks.

“However, it will not just be our decision to make.

“We would need a public entertainments licence and Highland Council of course are not issuing any during the present pandemic.

“Ultimately it’s a multi-agency decision in consultation with public health bodies and the situation with Covid is changing every day.

“We do know how important the Nairn Show is to the farming community and the wider community of Nairnshire as well. And it was with great disappointment, but no surprise, the plug had to be pulled on last year’s show. But, as a nurse myself, I know how important it is for everyone to pull together and adhere to the rules to fight this pandemic.

“So we will of course do what is asked of us by the authorities and give an assurance to the public, exhibitors and businesses involved in the show. An announcement will be made as soon as that decision is reached.”

n More coronavirus news – pages 8-10.

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