Paris agriculture show beloved of French presidential candidates cancels 2021 event

Paris agriculture show beloved of French presidential candidates cancels 2021 event
French president Emmanuel Macron at the 2020 show. Photo: AFP
Organisers of the Paris Salon de l'Agriculture - a traditional campaigning group for French presidential hopefuls - have announced the cancellation of the 2021 event.

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.

 

“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.

 

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.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED Why petting cows at the French farm show is crucial for politicians


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