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‘The venue of choice’: Equifest finds a new home for 2023

02

The organisers of the showing fixture Equifest have announced that the show will move to a new venue in 2023.

After the closure of the East of England showground this year, Equifest’s base for 15 years, the popular championship show was left without a home.

In 2023, Equifest will be held at Arena UK in Lincolnshire from 2 — 5 August.

The decision was made after Equifest’s organisers posted a public questionnaire, which competitors were encouraged to answer with their venue suggestions. Arena UK was “by far the venue of choice.”

Equifest 2023 will host eight surface rings and six grass rings alongside the main indoor arena, where the evening performances, Equifest’s trademark, will take place.

“Equifest is very grateful to the East of England Agricultural Society for their support and generosity over the years and helping in the transitional phase to Arena UK,” announced Equifest. “We are now planning Equifest 2023 with some new classes and championships which we will share with you very soon.”

Betsy Bryan of Equifest told H&H: “We knew for around a year that our 2022 show was going to be the last Equifest due to the fact East of England had been sold. Therefore, we had to bring the show to an end or restart at a new venue. We sent out a questionnaire to competitors asking a variety of questions, including where they were based in the country, how long they were willing to travel to a show and what facilities were important to them as well as a list of different venues. Arena UK came out in front.

“Most people wanted the show to stay in the east of the country, and most people are willing to travel a maximum of between two and three hours, unless they’re located in the far extremes of the country and are used to travelling long distances to compete.”

There was some concern from competitors on social media about the dates of Equifest clashing with other major fixtures, including the National Pony Society (NPS) summer championships (1-3 August), the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association Traditional of the Year Show (2-5 August) and the National Side-Saddle Show (4-6 August).

Equifest responded, stating that they will work with the relevant societies to minimise clashes between timetables, including running novice and training classes without an evening performance on the first day of competition, and hosting the mountain and moorland classes on days that do not class with the NPS summer championships.

“We’re looking to stay firmly in our roots, providing for the home-producer, amateur and restricted competitor,” said Betsy. “Unfortunately, we do clash with other shows but as we’re a joint venture with Arena UK we have to fit within their calendar. We’re working very closely with the societies to try to fit our timetable with those of the championship shows; we’ll be doing everything we can to avoid big clashes.

“The move does mean that we can hopefully welcome some of our Scottish competitors who haven’t been for a while back to Equifest as the journey is much easier and we run earlier in the season.”

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