Once seen as the realm of the landed gentry or a meeting point for farmers, the traditional county show is a longstanding part of British culture. Today, attendance is not limited to those planning to purchase a pig – the remit has been widened to attract a larger audience. They still celebrate all things agricultural, but there’s a focus on entertainment, rural pursuits and championing our countryside and everything it gives us. So grab your Barbour jackets, get your wellies on, jump in the Landrover and head out for some county show action…
ROYAL RESPECT FOR CHESHIRE CHAMPIONS
Leading the way in the history of county shows, the Cheshire Show has been the region’s premier agricultural event for over 175 years.
In honour of its proud past, it was bestowed with the status of having a ‘royal’ title last year and since 2016 has been known as the Royal Cheshire County Show.
Organisers announced last month that this year’s president will be The Right Reverend Libby Lane – Bishop of Stockport, who made history as the first female Bishop in England: ‘It is an unexpected honour to be asked to be President this year, and I accept the invitation with a clear desire to learn more from this community and be an advocate for them. My husband George and I look forward to being on the showground throughout the show, and I hope that this role might enable me to better serve Cheshire, not just for those few days in June but all year and beyond,’ she commented.
This year the event falls across June 20th and 21st and is expected to attract many thousands of visitors to Tabley in Knutsford over the two days – a far cry from its humble beginnings when the original Cheshire Agricultural Society came up with the idea in 1838. The inspiration came from the group’s President at the time, Field Marshall Viscount Combermere, who was one of The Duke of Wellington’s generals at Waterloo.
Born into a landowning family, he had travelled much in England and had observed better farming practice in the drier regions of England than in his native Cheshire. He persuaded his fellow Cheshire landowners to organise a series of competitions to encourage better farming methods and thus the founding principles of the county show were born. The CAS became a role model for other agricultural societies in England with varied success, although Cheshire has remained a leader in the field due to its unusual farming structure.
Not only is the county home to huge private estate family farms, such as Grosvenor, Wilbraham, Cholmondeley, Legh, Warburton, Davenport, Leycester and Edgerton, it also houses hundreds of cottage farms and small holdings. The policy of bringing them all together to show and compare their produce is still key to the ethos of the Cheshire Show today although the farming landscape has changed dramatically since its inauguration.
The county boasted around 20,000 farmers 100 years ago, today there are approximately 2000 – all the more reason to celebrate and champion every one of them at events such as the RCCS. With its roots firmly embedded in farming, the 2017 show will, as always, hold many competition classes for cattle, sheep, pigs and dairy goats, but will also include hundreds of classes for light and heavy horses, show jumping, rare breeds of livestock, poultry, pygmy goats, pigeons, cavies, rabbits and a dog show. Foodies are well catered for with the Roberts Bakery Food Hall and Food Live Theatre and The Sainsbury’s Agri Centre while general entertainment will be provided by dozens of groups and associations from across the area. www.royalcheshireshow.org
While the main ring will cater for all traditional agricultural attractions such as cattle competitions, livestock shows, horse displays and sheep spectaculars there is also a range of exhibits to suit every visitor of every age. Be sure to leave time to explore some of the lesser known show stoppers...
Always a popular event for entrants as much as visitors, the Cheshire Floral Design Competition never fails to wow the public when they visit the NAFAS Floral Marquee. This year there will be over 100 floral displays to view interpreting the title given of What a Wonderful World.
There will also be hands-on areas where both adults and children can have a go at making something to take home.
The annual Poultry and Egg Competition is also likely to impress with its high standard of exhibits shown in the Fur and Feather Marquee where over 200 classes are judged comprising of over 700 birds. From Bantams to Turkeys, Old English Game to Waterfowl, there is something for everyone and the chance to admire some rather weird and wonderful special breeds.
If you’re looking for animal magic, don’t forget to hop on down to the Rabbit Show where there will be no fewer than 113 classes covering Fancy, Lops, Fur and Rex, as well as including seven junior classes, all competing to be show Champion Rabbit. There will also be a huge range of guinea pigs battling it out for the title of Best Cavy. A particular favourite, and vital part of the show, is the WI Marquee where this year there will be a spectacular showcase of the combined skills of all the members of Cheshire’s 200 WIs. They have been working hard to make this year’s show a success and will be demonstrating an amazing range of skills within 10 competitive classes of crafts, cookery, photography and flower arranging.
Best of the rest…
See one of the largest open dog shows in the region, with 500 classes and more than 100 different breeds on display, or browse the vintage machinery and take a look back to the machinery of yesteryear. In The Village Green escape the hustle and bustle with music and dance performances from Sandbach UA3 Brass Band, The Jill Fielding Band, The Wilmslow Rock Choir, morris dancers, jazz bands and many more.
Triple the fun at The Royal Three Counties Show
The Royal Three Counties Show makes a welcome return to the Three Counties Showground in Malvern this June, running from Friday 17 to Sunday 19.
Celebrating the best of agriculture across Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and promising to be an enjoyable experience for all ages, the show is a highlight of the region’s calendar and attracts many thousands of visitors.
Head of shows Diana Walton explains: ‘We’re really looking forward to this year’s show. It’s shaping up to be one of the best yet, with lots of exciting new features, including the National Junior Dairy Show and an open-air theatre where experts in the sporting, gardening and business world give exclusive talks throughout the three day event.
‘It promises to be a fantastic day out for all the family to enjoy. The annually anticipated event will provide visitors with a whole host of fun activities, displays and entertainment whilst bringing together the very best in local produce and farming.’
Visitors can expect to get their pulses racing in the main arena with daredevil displays from the likes of the Bolddog Lings motorcross display team and the Red Devils parachute display team. The arena will also showcase the finest in livestock with a sheepdog display on the Sunday, daily animal parades, show jumping and lots more.
The event promises to be educational as well as fun as the nation’s favourite farmer, BBC Countryfile star and official Royal Three Counties ambassador, Adam Henson returns to head up the Ask the Farmer ring giving visitors young and old alike the chance to ask questions about their favourite farmyard friends. Children can try their hand at learning to be a soldier and experience walking through battle in the Living Village as The Woodvilles create an interactive and educational re-enactment of historical Gloucester battles.
A new open-air theatre will also feature at this year’s show. Hosted by Sky Sports and BBC Presenter Jill Douglas, the Wellington Boot Theatre will allow visitors to get an up close and personal audience experience as stars and experts in the sporting, gardening and business world give exclusive talks throughout the three-day event. Other hotspots for the family to enjoy include the Active Avenue, where visitors can take part in and watch various sporting activities, a Wildlife Area headed up by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and a Hotspot Trail around the showground.
The Royal Three Counties Show will also provide a feast suitable for the finest foodies. The Main Hall will showcase the finest local and artisan produce, whilst the Food and Drink pavilion will feature the very best regional and national food and drink products. The Cookery Theatre also makes a return and will have a Gloucestershire theme on one day with an appearance from Felice Tocchini. Visit www.threecounties.co.uk
The finest livestock, daring displays and galloping acrobats!
There is so much going on at the Three Counties Show this year, we can’t possible mention it all, but alongside the main exhibits there are some more unusual elements to explore. Located in between the Main Arena and Farming Village is the Herefordshire Hub dedicated to celebrating all things from the countryside, and you attend demos by some of the counties’ finest companies including Weston’s Cider, Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire and the National Trust.
Adrenaline junkies will love the action-packed performances from the UK’s number one motorcycle display team Bolddog Lings. Not only that, but the British Army’s official parachute display team, The Red Devils, are back jumping from altitudes of up to 10,000 feet, freefalling at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, and performing ‘canopy formations’ and trailing smoke. A highlight of the show has to be the Grand Parade Of Livestock held every day when all the finest exhibits have their moment of glory. On the Sunday, the rare and minority breeds join the parade. The huge climbing poles at the heart of the Forestry Area are not to be missed, and are scaled once again by competitors from around the country, racing against the clock in the Pole Climbing Championships. An international Orchid Exhibition of exquisite plants by specialist growers from Malaysia, Taiwan, Ecuador, Holland, Denmark, Germany and the UK will be a popular attraction and several of these different cultivated varieties will be on sale.
Best of the rest…
Hot Air Balloons will take to the sky at the end of every day if the weather allows, and displays include galloping horseback acrobats as well as a lumberjack display team. There will be falconry demonstrations, sheep shearing competitions, Shetland ponies performing for visitors and even the Quack Pack – a team of herding ducks.
Pulling out all the stops for The Shropshire County Show
The Shropshire County Show is one of the oldest surviving agricultural shows in the country and has been representing the very best of agriculture across the county for over 140 years. This year it will be held on Saturday, 27th May, at the West Mids Showground, and organisers have vowed to make it even more attractive to families and people of all ages and from all backgrounds. The team behind the event, the Shropshire and West Midlands Agricultural Society, are pulling out all the stops to provide a blend of family entertainment and traditional agricultural displays. There will be lots of free children’s activities in the Kids’ Zone, which will be bigger than ever before, including the Animal Man, Magic Kev, a BMX track, hay bale maze – and a very special guest still to be announced. The ever-popular tractor pulling will be back, as well as a much larger horse show following a reduction in horse classes last year. There will also be the finest displays of cattle, sheep, poultry and other animals. Ian Bebbington, society director, explains: ‘The committee of volunteers organising the show are really excited about the range of entertainment they have put together this year.
‘As each successful year passes we are determined to make the next show even better than the last. It is still very much a community event, and we hope the farming community and everyone else in Shropshire will come together as always to help make the show another great success. The show committee has given me the authority to book the best attractions that are available on the day, no expense (within reason) spared. I have not let them down and believe the non-stop programme we have booked will thrill everyone.
‘We really have got something for everyone this year, from the superb Kids’ Zone which features everything from spiders to a climbing wall, to the main ring entertainment which is headlined by the Imps motorcycle display team.
‘There’s also the fantastic young farmers float parade at the end of the day, hundreds of trade stands featuring agricultural machinery, arts and crafts, the region’s finest food and drink and much more besides.’ The show is a great opportunity to boast about the diverse things on offer in Shropshire. It’s a celebration of the rural community and chance to highlight the role it plays in our daily lives. www.westmidshowground.com