Stud breeders are mourning the loss of the 2021 Royal Adelaide Show and their chance to have their prized livestock vie for broad ribbons.
It did not come as a surprise to many though, with the Ekka in Qld and Royal Melbourne Show, Vic, cancelled earlier.
But in some good news, the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society of SA, which last week said there would be no livestock on the showgrounds, is allowing several key events to go ahead.
RELATED: 2021 Royal Adelaide Show cancelled
The Schools Merino Wether Competition, which has a record 74 entries, along with the Adelaide Merino ram sale and the Elite Stud Sheep sale will all be held at Wayville, the same as 2020.
Unlike 2020, the wool and grains and fodder sections have also been judged, but there will be no dairy or beef cattle, sheep, pig, goat or alpaca judging for the second year in a row.
A push by a few exhibitors to hold regional shows has not eventuated.
RA&HS of SA chief executive John Rothwell said they had decided to enable the school-based competitions to be completed "due to the students investing a full year in preparing these stock and also having presented it under strict COVID-19 safety plans in 2020".
"The (beef) carcase competition will also continue, however there is no showground activity required," he said.
Merino SA president Joe Dahlitz said it was fantastic that the 40 participating schools could line up their 222 wethers - although judging would be restricted to one student per wether.
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It was also a "huge relief" for the 23 SA and Vic vendors - which had 66 rams entered - that the ram sale would go ahead on September 10.
"It may have been possible to have it somewhere else but it would have been a lot of extra work, it is all set up with all the pens and is a great central location," Mr Dahlitz said.
He said the "premier multi-vendor Merino sale in Australia" would again only be open to vendors and potential buyers.
"It has a hell of a lot of tradition and is always a great sale. Last year we averaged just under $12,000 and topped at $76,000 and I hope it will be just as successful this year, I see no reason why it couldn't be," he said.
The Elite Stud Sheep sale will be held on Monday, September 6 with 45 rams, largely White Suffolks, catalogued from SA, Vic, NSW and Tas vendors.
The 21 local lots and a few from Vic studs will be penned in the sheep shed but some of the other interstate sheep may be online only.
Sale coordinator Peter Button said it was important for the continuity of the sale to offer vendors an outlet to sell their stud rams and potential purchasers a chance to find their next impact sire.
"I have had many more calls from more potential buyers than vendors really wanting the sale to go ahead. When they are spending good money on a stud ram they want to see the sheep, walk it and feel it," he said.
"We still have the option if there is a snap lockdown between now and then that with a day's notice or so we can have a fully online platform but that is the worst case scenario."
Old Ashrose Merino stud principal Nick Wadlow is also disappointed the show has been called off but recognises the difficulties the show society is going through.
Showing has been a proud tradition for the Mid North stud for more than 70 years.
The last Royal in 2019 was a particularly big occasion for the Wadlow family, winning both supreme exhibit and fleece.
They were looking forward to having a chance to defend these titles with 21 sheep entered for the Poll Merino feature showing.
We are optimistic that there will be some sense of normality in the future and shows will return bigger and stronger than ever.- Nick Wadlow, Old Ashrose stud, Hallett
"It was something that we had been really looking forward to after missing last year and having Bendigo (the Australian Sheep & Wool Show) cancelled as well has meant our show team have not travelled anywhere since the March field days," he said.
"There is a considerable amount of time and money spent on the show team in the lead up to September with preparation of the August shorn (full wool) sheep starting 13 months before the show."
Mr Wadlow said the show was an important part of their stud program, enabling them to benchmark themselves against other similar type SA Merino sheep.
"The show is also a great place to inspect other studs' rams for potential sires and see what direction breeders are taking their sheep," he said.
But he says they will miss the chance to network with other stud breeders and their families - and the comradery between them - even more.
"We are optimistic that there will be some sense of normality in the future and shows will return bigger and stronger than ever," he said.
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