It’s been a Teesside institution for three quarters of a century – but this month’s Cleveland Show could be the last for an event that attracts up to 14,000 visitors a year.
The show’s volunteer organisers say rising costs, falling sponsorship and the weather have left the North-east’s biggest agricultural show on the edge.
Now they’ve issued a rallying call to the public, and potential sponsors, to ensure this year’s show, taking place in Stewart Park on Saturday July 27, isn’t the last.
Each year, the show features a range of agricultural activities and animals including competitions for sheep, goats, horses, cattle, dogs, poultry, ferrets and rabbits, plus with a fun fair, motorbike stunt show and children’s fun show adding to the family fun.
But members of the volunteer committee who dedicate their time to planning the event say its finances have reached crisis level – and another bad year could sound the death knell for the event.
Show director Barrie Robinson, who has been involved since helping his grandad when he was just eight years old, wants to ensure the show goes out on a high if this is to be the last one.
He said: “If it goes, the sense of failure I would feel would be immense.”
“It would be a tragedy.”
He added: “The show is a crown jewel in Teesside’s summer calendar. It’s one of the country’s biggest, best-known agricultural shows and it brings loads of people into the most beautiful park.
“So it’s something I really desperately don’t want to let go of because I think I’ll be letting down my grandfather if the show falls on my watch.
“It would be a crying shame for the people of Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire too. But I’m a realist, and if we don’t plug some of the financial gaps we’ve got it won’t be able to keep going.
“And I fear that people won’t know what they’ve got till it’s gone.”
The show’s general secretary, Val Thomson, whose farmer father Keith Beaumont was one of show’s original founders, said she’s also determined to save the show in memory of her parents, once show director and trade stand manager.
“I know my dad’s looking down watching me, so I would hate to think that I’d be one of those responsible for ending a show he helped start 76 years ago,” said Val, who attended her first Cleveland Show at the age of 10 months in 1955 and has been helping out since the age of five.
“I think and certainly hope people will be horrified to hear this could be the end of the Cleveland Show, so we need a great turnout – and hopefully a much-needed injection of cash via sponsorship.”
Barrie believes the show has suffered from an inaccurate belief that it’s a Middlesbrough Council event: “There’s a perception from many that this is a council-run show, but this is a stand-alone event, run by volunteers,” he said.
“We don’t receive any funding at all from the council, though we appreciate the free use of Stewart Park.”
He added: “If it fails this year, I can’t see it coming back.”
First held as the Stockton Show on the Recreation Ground on Durham Road in 1944, the show had temporary stops at Ropner Park and Wynyard Hall before moving to Stewart Park in 1963 where it’s been held every year ever since, with crowds of 30,000 regularly attending in its heyday.
The Cleveland Show took place at the Marton-based park on Saturday July 27, with entry priced £8 adults, £6 OAP, £4 children (under-3s free), while family entry for two adults and two children is £19.
Free parking is available.
Those interested in sponsoring part of the Cleveland Show can call 07930 314552 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.