BARLEY Saturday in Cardigan has been called off as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

The annual showcase event for the town had been scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 25 but its cancellation will come as no surprise as events throughout the UK fall by the wayside.

Organisers of the annual Newcastle Emlyn Food festival which was due to take place on Saturday, June 13, have also pulled the plug.

Barley Saturday secretary Tudor Harries: “We were going to leave the decision as late as possible but things have changed so quickly that we have no choice but to call it off and it was inevitable.

“Hopefully, we will be back bigger and better than ever next year.”

A spokesperson for Newcastle Emlyn Food festival said: “It is inevitable that following the government's guidelines, Newcastle Emlyn Food Festival Committee have come to the decision that we will not be holding our tenth food festival in June.

“We are extremely sad to announce this of course because so much effort by so many people in our community contributes to the success of the festival but this situation is unprecedented and it is important that we follow the advice.

“Once the situation has improved, we will revisit things to see what and when we can arrange to raise the spirits of local people and to support the community. In the meantime, we wish that you all keep safe and follow the appropriate advice.”

It is believed Barley Saturday has its origins in the middle of the 19th century and served as a half-yearly hiring fair of farm servants and celebrated the end of the sowing season – barley was the final cereal sown.

It has been traditionally held on the last Saturday in April.

The event was disbanded during World War Two and appeared to have died a death.

But in 1961 a group of town business people decided to resurrect the event. They included incoming mayor and baker the late Ivor Radley (father of Martyn Radley, Queen’s Bakery).

During one of the early shows in the mid 1960’s then mayor and licensee of the former Ship Inn in the town centre Britt Griffiths joined the parade in his mayoral robes and sporting an outsize cigar.

For many years the show was at Penralltddu Field near the town’s junior school, but organisers were told that due to plans for the site the 2014 show would be the last.

With the cooperation of Cardigan Secondary governors and head-teacher Nicola Davies the show was given a new home at the school playing field and has been held there ever since.

Over the years there have been many well-known people who have served as Barley Saturday President, including two years ago Grand National winning jockey and a native of the town Hywel Davies – he won the big race on 50/1 outsider Last Suspect in 1985.