A MAJOR Dorset festival - the Great Dorset Steam Fair - has been cancelled amid 'uncertainty' following the Prime Minister's recent roadmap announcement.

Following a further review by the Great Dorset Steam Fair Board of Directors, it has been confirmed that the 2021 Great Dorset Steam Fair scheduled to take place over the Bank Holiday weekend of Thursday August 26 to Monday August 30 will not go ahead.

Dorset Echo:

Steam Fair managing director Martin Oliver said: “We have continued to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic over the past few weeks and whilst the ongoing vaccination programme is progressing well and should be commended, it has nevertheless become increasingly evident (as in 2020) that it is unfeasible to run the Great Dorset Steam Fair event again this year.

"This has been a very difficult decision to make, however, as our pre-planning for the 2021 event has now reached a critical stage (with March being the key deadline for confirming major contractors), we have no other option than to make the decision now to not continue with the event this year and focus our efforts on the 2022 show."

Mr Oliver said the decision was made following PM Boris Johnson's speech on Monday, when the Government outlined a roadmap to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

"The ongoing problem the Board of Directors faces is that of uncertainty," he added.

"(We are uncertain) as to what statutory covid restrictions will still be in place in August for large scale, high-capacity mass gatherings like the GDSF.

"The Prime Minister also stressed that he is being driven by data and not dates and therefore the timeline of the roadmap is not guaranteed."

It is hoped the event, based near Blandford, will return next year - and bookings for this year's event will be carried over.

"Sadly, the risk is simply too great for us to run this year, it would be an enormous health and safety, operational and financial gamble which we cannot justify," Martin Oliver said.

"Our priority therefore has to be to safeguard the viability of the event for future years and by not risking running in 2021, this will enable us to return in 2022.

"Ultimately, the safety and wellbeing of our visitors, exhibitors, traders, staff and contractors is always our primary concern, combined with the effect to the local area, towns, parishes and residents.

"We are also very conscious of the impact that the event would have on the NHS, Emergency Services, local authority and partner agencies, and we do not want to unnecessarily stretch their resources any further this year.

"We offer our sincere apologies to all involved and I can assure you that we at the Great Dorset Steam Fair are equally as disheartened and disappointed that for a second consecutive year there will be no show. However, not running the show again this year is the right and responsible thing to do on all counts."

All efforts will now turn to putting on a 'fabulous show' in 2022, organisers say - the dates of which are Thursday August 25 to Bank Holiday Monday August 29.

Tickets and camping bookings for 2022 will be on sale by Christmas this year. Meanwhile, Steam Fair FM, the show’s radio station, will be broadcasting nationwide online throughout the original 2021 show period with news about the show, archive recordings, big prize competitions, and dedications for supporters, friends and family.

For visitors who previously booked advance tickets and camping for the cancelled 2020 event and have not requested refunds, these bookings will automatically remain valid for the event in 2022.

Alternatively, to request a refund contact enquiries@gdsf.co.uk quoting the order number.