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Chairman of Rutland Agricultural Society makes vow to review procedures following disruption caused by Christian festival at Rutland Showground in Oakham

The owners of the Rutland Showground have vowed to review their procedures following chaos caused by a festival this week.

The Rutland Agricultural Society, which owns the Rutland Showground, had accepted a booking for its site on the edge of Oakham in 'good faith' from St Hilda’s Church, Darlington to run a Christian festival.

The society required the event organisers to produce an event risk assessment and asked them to complete and submit to the council an event notification. However, the council states that it was not provided with this.

Aerial view of the Rutland Showground where around 1,500 travellers have descended for a Christian Festival, Rutland
Aerial view of the Rutland Showground where around 1,500 travellers have descended for a Christian Festival, Rutland

David Wood, chairman of the Rutland Agricultural Society, said: "We believe they did but clearly it was not necessarily received properly. I can't confirm either way."

While the event is legal under current rules, trouble struck the county as a minority of attendees reportedly took part in intimidation, looting, drag racing and breaching covid regulations.

David, who is also the High Sheriff of Rutland, said: "I have been on site and they are having a straight-forward Christian festival.

High Sheriff David Wood. Photo: Alan Walters
High Sheriff David Wood. Photo: Alan Walters

"We checked with other showgrounds and events are taking place elsewhere."

However, following the chaos caused, the group has vowed to review its procedures to ensure that similar situations do not happen again.

David acknowledged that they have 'allowed a number of events to take place, which have caused problems' in the town, primarily surrounding traffic.

"What I'm extremely sad about is that the event has clearly caused a lot of distress," said David.

GV of the Rutland Showground
GV of the Rutland Showground

"The fact is, we have caused a big issue for the town and we very much regret that.

"I'm not sure that came over in the statement but we will take steps to make sure we rebuild the relationship and have a better understanding for the town. They deserved better than that.

"Fundamentally we have lots of lessons to learn and the support we have received from the council and police has been excellent."

As part of the review the society will be altering the events which they give permission to take place on the site.

The group hope to put more of a focus on agricultural events as well as those which appeal to the community in Rutland.

The review will also ensure that when future events are held, the council is notified.

Yesterday (June 23), Rutland Showground withdrew its planning application for 150 camping pitches.

This followed the application receiving a high number of objections following the issues caused by the Light and Life festival.

"I think quite simply it's been awful," said David.

"There's been a lot of unrest and unhappiness in the town about the event. People are trying to understand why we allowed this.

"People in the town thought if we were putting in the planning application for camping and wanted to be able to change the use of land for car parking that means we would want similar events."

David added that it is unlikely they will submit an application for camping in the future.

Following the issues caused, the Rutland Agricultural Society has also received a number of unpleasant messages.

"Social media is a small minority but it has been absolutely shocking some of the abuse my staff have received.

"It's been absolutely appalling," he said.

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