Innovation in agricultural and county shows: conceptualising the e-eventscape

Gary Bosworth*, Barry Ardley, Sabine Gerlach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: In response to the cancellation of a host of events during the summer of 2020, the purpose of this paper is to examine the rapid innovation that created an online County Show. County Shows are traditionally associated with agriculture and the wider rural economy of a region and provide a range of visitor experiences alongside business networking and trading opportunities. The case of the online Lincolnshire Show sought to replicate many aspects of a physical show, and this paper evaluates its effectiveness by applying a newly developed e-eventscape model. 

Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-methods approach generated data from businesses, visitors and the show organiser. Surveys and social media feedback from attendees captured overall satisfaction levels and suggestions for improvements. Participation in the online Business Breakfast event along with an interview with the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Show provided deeper understanding of the innovation occurring. 

Findings: The nature of innovation was strongly rooted in place, despite creating a virtual product. Local networks and supporters were critical to staging the online Show. The proposed e-eventscape model allowed an effective appraisal of the online Show, identifying many strengths in terms of the user interface and aesthetics as well as opportunities for improvement, especially linked to greater interactive engagement. 

Originality/value: The impacts of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have accelerated digital innovation in a range of events and festivals. This provides an opportunity to examine the evolving role of Shows in the rural economy and the innovation processes that have emerged. As well as presenting original insights into rural innovation, the paper develops and tests a new e-eventscape model applicable to the growing field of online events and festivals. Findings indicate that there is considerable scope for organisers to embed online content into the future of many live Shows and festivals, far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-453
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Event and Festival Management
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2021

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