COUNTRYFILE Live, one of Oxfordshire's largest annual events, is likely to move from Blenheim Palace to a new venue in the region next year, exhibitors have been told.

Hundreds of businesses took exhibition stands at the stately home in Woodstock this month where, for the fourth year running, stars of the BBC TV show headlined the country pursuits showcase.

MAIL'S VIEW - If Oxfordshire lost Countryfile it would be a sharp shock

But some exhibitors expressed disappointment about where their stands were positioned at the four-day festival, which started on Thursday, August 1.

Witney Gazette:

Some said organisers told them at the end of the four days they could not confirm Countryfile Live would return to Blenheim next year.

Now this paper has been told organisers are considering other venues.

READ AGAIN: Countryfile Live 2019 at Blenheim Palace

However, Castle Howard in York is now hosting the first BBC Countryfile Live event for the north from Thursday until Sunday and official confirmation of a switch away from Blenheim may not be given until after that event has concluded.

Jessica Duke, marketing manager for SME London, which has been handling public relations for BBC Countryfile Live, would not confirm that the showcase was returning to the palace.

Witney Gazette:

She said: "The BBC will be issuing a press release next week following this week's Castle Howard show, with details of the venues and dates for 2020 and we are not able to make any further comment at this stage."

Staff at the palace are also refusing to provide more details about the show's future in West Oxfordshire.

CEO Dominic Hare said: "We are extremely pleased with how well this year’s show has gone.

Witney Gazette:

"We are not currently in a position to discuss future plans for the event.”

READ AGAIN: New traffic system revealed to ease Countryfile Live traffic

Exhibitors said they were left not knowing at the end of the festival if they would be able to return next year.

Stephan Hrycak, who runs a Milton Keynes company selling a knife-sharpening tool, said: "I thought the set-up worked well and there were plenty of people there but they were not buying stuff.

"Last year we smashed it but this year people did not seem interested.

Witney Gazette:

"At the end the organisers said 'there may well be a venue change' and they said they would let us know as soon as they could."

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Johnny Luebke, whose Worcester-based company Dirty-Weekender makes bespoke camper vans, said: "Some of the exhibitors seemed to be getting upset because they were not having a good weekend but we got lots of interest because we were right next to the Countryfile show magazine stand.

Witney Gazette:

"One company requested a move to a different stand but were told they couldn't move because it would leave a gap.

"At the end, one of the organisers said it looked likely Countryfile would not be back at Blenheim next year."

Monica Brown, who runs Northamptonshire-based Happy Herefords, was selling beefburgers with raclette cheese at the Blenheim event.

Witney Gazette:

She said she was heading to Castle Howard to try to make up 'losses she incurred' at the palace.

Ms Brown added: "A lot of the exhibitors were furious because they felt the show had been a disaster – perhaps the tickets cost too much.

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"Some exhibitors said they had been told Countryfile would now switch to Windsor."

Gill Chetwynd, who helps to run Grimsby-based Skipper's dog treats firm, said she did not enjoy her experience as an exhibitor.

She added: "We were placed right in the middle of a load of charity stands so people were not coming forward to pick up samples or buy.

Witney Gazette:

"It cost us £1,500 to exhibit and we took next to no money."

Ashley Smith, of Windrush Against Sewage Pollution campaign group, said he and his team had a 'very positive' experience in the wildlife zone.

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He added: "It looked well run and we would like it to return next year."

Countryfile on BBC1 gets healthy viewing figures - in 2016 got 9.5 million viewers for one episode, beating audiences for War and Peace and Call the Midwife.

Witney Gazette:

Its presenters include John Craven, Ellie Harrison, Tom Heap, Matt Baker, Anita Rani and Adam Henson.

In 2017 road closures and temporary reduced speed limits were introduced around the palace after traffic chaos marred the first two days of the previous year's event, with motorists queuing for hours to get into the palace.

Organisers said in 2017 a new traffic management team was in place as well as a new 2,000-space car park.

There were no major congestions problems this year, even though the festival runs the same weekend as Wilderness in Charlbury.