This year’s LAMMA show was on track to be the most successful yet until the weather took a turn for the worse, leading to the suspension of the second day.
The show was scheduled to take place on Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th January and opened on a crisp and sunny morning.
However, the weather changed dramatically overnight and violent winds battered the site before daybreak of the second morning, leaving event organiser AgriBriefing (previously Briefing Media) no option but to cancel the rest of the show.
Many exhibitors reported an excellent first day, when visitor numbers appeared to be heading for a new high.
Positive noises coming from the government about its plans for a post-Brexit agricultural policy and the improved livestock and arable commodity prices that followed the Brexit vote helped create the buoyant mood.
Many of the 900 exhibitors reported busy stands and serious interest in their wares from key decision makers across a wide range of farm businesses.
Elisabeth Mork-Eidem, group head of events of AgriBriefing, which owns the LAMMA show, said: “There was a real buzz in the air on the first day of LAMMA ’18. Everything about the show felt positive, it was busy and noisy and had all the makings of an extremely successful event.
“Exhibitors large and small used the event to launch hundreds of new products, underlining LAMMA’s reputation as a launchpad for all types of machinery and equipment.
“We were all set for a fond farewell to Peterborough with over 20,000 visitors on site on Wednesday, and the feedback we’ve had from a number of exhibitors is that it was the best day in LAMMA’s history.”
However, the organisers were left with no option but to suspend the second day due to the extensive damage caused by the storm in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Mrs Mork-Eidem said: “The decision to cancel was not taken lightly and the team is devastated as they work extremely hard all year to make LAMMA the fantastic event it is.
“However, it was made based on the advice of our health and safety team, our contractors and the operational team. When I arrived on site at around 5am, the storm had already got hold and ripped open a number of the larger marquee structures.
“At the peak we recorded gusts over 65 mph on site. When the wind subsided, and it was safe to do so, we sent out the contractors to assess the structural integrity of the various structures.
“Following that and as it started to get light, we sent out our stewards to assess the internal damage. Based on the information we got back, we then made that call to suspend the second day of the show.”
Mrs Mork-Eidem said: “There was structural damage to some of the smaller stand marquees together with extensive damage internally in a number of halls and also outside. This included the shell scheme collapsing, twisted metal, broken glass and stands that were half collapsed, with the potential of falling further when moved.
“We did get and assessed timelines for making the site safe, but in reality this would have taken too long,” she added. “Due to the nature of the showground, it is not possible to open to the public as long as any area is unsafe and we were left with no choice.”
All access to the site was suspended, including the car parks as the organisers would not have been able to provide the necessary welfare provisions for additional people, said Mrs Mork-Eidem.
“It would have been impossible to ensure visitors stayed in their vehicles and away from the site. As we said last Thursday, our main focus was to keep people safe.
“We did unfortunately have one serious casualty in the early hours of the storm. The individual is in hospital and should make a full recovery and our well wishes goes out to him and his family.”
Mrs Mork-Eidem said she fully understood how testing it was for exhibitors, visitors, contractors and staff alike, and greatly appreciated the understanding shown and the help in getting everyone off site safely.
“We’re also very grateful for the numerous messages of support we’ve received since Thursday, which have meant so much to the extended LAMMA team of stewards, contractors, traffic managers, security and health and safety officers; for whom this has been a very challenging few days.”
Next year’s event moves to the NEC, which, as well as remaining free to visit (both in terms of entry and car parking) should protect against weather like that experienced on Thursday, said Mrs Mork-Eidem.
“Curtailing the show last week was heart breaking for everyone. We are now focusing all our resources and working closely with the NEC team to make sure we continue to deliver a great LAMMA in 2019.”