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‘‘Gutted. Gutted, absolutely.’’

Organisers of the North Otago A&P Show had no choice but to call it off, following the Government’s announcement on Sunday that the entire country would move into Red under the Covid-19 traffic light system, A&P Association secretary Katrina Kelly said.

‘‘As soon as . . .I heard the news, I contacted the president and said, ‘We need to have a meeting ASAP’.’’

The 159th annual show was supposed to take place on February 26, but had now been reduced to just three competitive sections.

‘‘It’s just a shame we’re not going to have the full show, with trade spaces looking good — our sponsors were all on board again,’’ Mrs Kelly said.

‘‘We had a full range of free entertainment for the kids — that side’s gutting, but we can’t do anything about it. We’ve just got to move on.’’

An emergency meeting was held on Monday night, with a very big turnout of association members, and ‘‘everybody was gutted’’, Mrs Kelly said.

‘‘A lot of work goes into it. We’ve called it probably early enough.

‘‘We didn’t have a choice. There wasn’t a choice.’’

The horse, schools, and hoof and hook sections would still be happening, but within the guidelines of the Government and Ministry of Health, she said.

Showing and hunter jumping would be on the planned Saturday of the show, with showjumping on the Sunday, and there were already entries from Kaiapoi, Wanaka and Gore, she said.

‘‘People want something to go to.’’

The schools section would be run in a different format than usual — the public would not be able to view the entries in person, and the food and floral categories were being omitted.

But Mrs Kelly hoped to post photos of all the entries on to the North Otago A&P Show Facebook page.

‘‘Because we’ve got to celebrate our young people, absolutely we have to celebrate our young people, and we always have such an amazing under-thegrandstand section.

‘‘So I’m really hoping they’re still going to get behind us and support us.’’

Children could bring their entries in the whole week leading up to, but not on, the Saturday, and they would be judged the following week.

‘‘They’ll still get certificates, they’ll still get prize money,’’ Mrs Kelly said.

With so many other events being cancelled around the country, the association had been keen to see how long it could delay making a decision, but it expected the country would not be returning to the orange setting for ‘‘some time’’, she said.

‘‘But we’ll be back next year, better and bigger for our 160th.’’