Leicester city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby backs return of Abbey Park Show
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby wants to bring back the Abbey Park Show as a major date on the city's festival's calendar, "celebrating all that is good about Leicester."
He said the show, which at its peak attracted 50,000 people over two days, could be staged at its old venue in Abbey Park or in the heart of the city.
The event – which included animal displays, children's activities, entertainment, crafts, stalls and exhibitions by local groups – was shelved by the city council in 1995 because of rising costs and dwindling attendances.
Sir Peter said: "The question, I think, is not whether the show should be brought back. It should. It should never have been stopped.
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"The question is where it should be held. I think it might be difficult to recreate it on the scale that it perhaps once was, but I would like a similar event, maybe on the bank holiday weekend in August, to bring the city together and showcase the best of who we are and what we do.
"It might be difficult for us to stage things such as showjumping, which was always a staple of the show. But there are many other things we could bring back.
"I didn't agree with the decision to axe the show in the 1990s, despite the decision being taken by the Labour controlled council. It was a mistake, I think.
"We are currently reviewing all our festivals but I do genuinely think a big "City of Leicester'' show, celebrating all aspects of city life, would be a good thing. It is something I am convinced we should do."
The Abbey Park Show was axed in 1995, nearly 50 years after its inception, after it cost £135,000 to stage that year.
As costs had increased, numbers of visitors had also fallen. In 1991, a Mercury report revealed the show lost £176,223.
Councillor Rob Wann was chairman of the council's leisure committee at the time the show was axed. Speaking in 1995, he said the show was out of date.
He said: "It doesn't make sense to try to return the show to former glories. At one time, people had nothing else better to do, but they no longer get that excited about wandering around a few jam-making tents."
The council is undertaking a major review of festivals in the city to try to save cash.
Grants to the Caribbean Carnival, the Castle Park festival, the Hindu Dashera festival and others are being scrutinised for value for money. The council's festivals budget is £365,000.
But Sir Peter said: "The joy of the Abbey Park Show was that a lot it, the essence of it, was that it came from local groups, enthusiasts and volunteers.
"I'd want to build on that. I'm sure there would be a cost element, but I don't think it would have to be prohibitively expensive.
"At the moment, we have lots of festivals that represent various parts of the community. A new City of Leicester show could bring all of those elements together."