Held at a huge expo site in the city, the agriculture show welcomes thousands of people – and animals – from all over France.
This year's event took place over the last week of February, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning to grip France and the final day of the event had to be cancelled after the government introduced the first anti-Covid control measures, a ban on events of more than 5,000 people in enclosed spaces.
Competitors and crowds at the 2020 event. Photo: AFP
The 2021 event was scheduled to run from February 27th to March 7th, but on Tuesday organisers announced that it was cancelled due to the impossibility of staging such a huge event within the health restrictions.
Face aux conséquences de la pandémie de #COVID19 impliquant restrictions, obligations et contraintes pour la tenue d’événements et de salons, le #SIA2021, qui devait se tenir du 27 fév. 2021 au 7 mars 2021 est reporté sur l’édition 2022. https://t.co/A7jpCrpCBV pic.twitter.com/F3RS3olvhK
— Salon International de l'Agriculture (@Salondelagri) October 13, 2020
“It is our responsibility […] to say as far in advance as possible of our decision to postpone the Salon de l'agriculture to the following year,” director Jean-Luc Poullain told French radio station RTL.
As well as being the highlight of the farming calendar, with local champions travelling from around France to compete with their prize-winning livestock and produce, the show also has a political function.
Over the years it has become a must-do event for anyone who is making a serious bid for the presidency, in order to chat to farmers, pet cows and show that they are in touch with the 'real' France.
Paris’ Agricultural fair (#Salondelagriculture) is an annual (slightly smelly) clash of city and countryside in the midst of the capital. Emmanuel Macron spent 12 hours here on Saturday, and it’s a no-miss for anyone with presidential ambitions. Why? pic.twitter.com/JfrCGJGuF5
— Ingri Bergo (@ingribergo) February 24, 2020
So crucial is the event considered that French media have made something of a sport of measuring how much time the country's presidents dedicate to the Salon. François Hollande spent 10 hours in his time, Jacques Chirac a little more than five. Nicolas Sarkozy “never spent more than four,” according to French web media Ici.
Emmanuel Macron has made sure to beat all former records. His 14-hour-long visit in 2019 was the longest ever of a sitting president and at the 2020 event he spent a good 12 hours inside chatting with farmers and tasting their products.