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Secretary Devon County Show defends decision to close event for first time in history

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 31, 2014

Ollie Allen breaking the news that the show actually wouldn't go on

Ollie Allen breaking the news that the show actually wouldn't go on

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Devon County Show Secretary Ollie Allen pledged the event would be back "stronger and better" next year, despite being forced to cancel the last day of this year's event at a cost of £500,000.

There was chaos on the Friday afternoon last week, when the grassed car parks turned into quagmires and thousands of visitors queued for up to two hours to get into the showground.

It forced organisers to cancel the Saturday – traditionally the best day of the three day event for visitor numbers.

Yesterday, a week after that decision was taken, show secretary Ms Allen gave her first full interview on the crisis.

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She admitted there was no wet weather insurance because the premiums were too high.

She said: "The premiums for wet weather insurance are horrendous. The types of insurance we have looked at, means a certain amount of rain has to fall in a certain amount of time and we have to prove it."

She also confessed that the Devon County Agriculture Assocation had not made contigency plans for the Thursday and Friday when the showground car park began to break up. And she accepted that despite considering a park and ride scheme for the show, the committee had "not got around" to organising it.

But she told Radio Devon's Matt Woodley who asked her about the 'professionalism' of the organisation: "We think we've got the perfect team."

Showgoers who bought advance tickets for Saturday are being asked to return them for a refund.

She said she could not guarantee refunds for those who bought tickets for Friday but turned back because of long delays.

She asked that they too sent back their tickets and the board would decide.

She said: "It's going to take a few years to make up the money we have lost. But we are looking forward. The show will go on and we will come back stronger and better and we will come back with car parks that are in a better state than they were this year."

But she ruled out creating a hard parking surface saying it would be prohibitively expensive and environmentally damaging. She said the DCAA board would meet next week with Exeter City Council and Stagecoach to discuss a park and ride scheme.

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