We love getting out and about in the summer. Agricultural shows and variations on that theme are an important part of the cultural life of county towns. Isn’t it amazing what goes on at them? Our favourite thing is wandering round the enclosures looking at the different breeds of farm animals. Then there’s the Craft Tent. Prize winning jams, ‘six scones’, carrots that are two feet long and perfectly straight. How do they do that? Those things are impressive but it’s those quirky little collections of ‘an insect using no more than 25 liquorice all sorts’ or ‘a garden on a tray’ that really make us beam.
The first known agricultural show was put on by The Salford Agricultural Society in 1768 and they have been hugely popular ever since. Everyone knows about the big ones like the Bath and West and the Royal Welsh but most counties have a county show, nearly every village has a fete and many parishes have ploughing matches. All of these events present an opportunity for agricultural communities to get together to show off what they do and for everyone else to admire and appreciate it.
Agricultural shows are popular abroad too. The Americans have their State Fairs and they happen in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well as all over Europe. The French do it a little differently sometimes celebrating one thing at a time. Fete du Melons anyone? They also host the annual Paris International Agricultural Show which has been taking place since 1870 and attracts nearly a million visitors.
You can’t beat a wellie wanging competition and the ‘Grand Parade’ of all the prizewinning animals is a magnificent sight. Mary, our custodian at Hundy Mundy had entered chickens into the Border Union Agricultural show and James became a temporary bird fancier when he emerged from the poultry tent at the show recently. He had loved it so much that we were treated to over sixty pictures and his five minute video of magnificent chickens accompanied by a cock-crowing soundtrack!
If you look back over the years there is clear evidence that we like tradition when it comes to our shows. There is an enormous archive at British Pathe. In these short films, which are mostly in black and white, the scene is exactly the same. Judges in suits and bowler hats and farmers in smart white coats leading their immaculate animals.
There is nearly always some sort of entertainment in the Main ring too. At the Royal Welsh it will be something noisy and impressive like a motorbike display or the Royal Horse Artillery but look what they got up to in Kenilworth in 1965. Tractors with horse’s heads stuck on the front. Fabulous!
This year we've already exhibited at the two-day Border Union Agricultural Show but you can still come and see us and write your ideas on our ‘My Last Song’ board at …
Monks Risborough Horticultural Show - Saturday 2nd August
(where Dorothy Brock our landowner partner is the President
Gwent Wildlife Trust Open Day - Tuesday 12th August
The Vale of Glamorgan Show - Wednesday 13th August
Frome Cheese and Agricultural Show - Saturday 13th September
Thame Show - Thursday 18th September
Keep up to date with where we will be on our Facebook page and when you visit our stand please tell us the most bonkers thing you've found so that we can go and see it too!
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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