A Great Day Out
By Amy Worley, CJS Features Commissioning Editor
Towards the end of August my and many other families in the local area attended Egton Show, one of the largest agricultural shows in the area.
The day started with the excitement of preparing the entries. Gone now are the days of my offspring entering the children’s classes but in previous years this task led to a huge amount of anxiety on my part – watching children create a vegetable model and miniature garden on the morning of the show was not the easiest thing, then the stress of actually getting it to the site in one piece was another level of anxiety.
We now focus on preparing fancy pigeons for showing, which involves cleaning their feathers and feet the day before and catching them to transport to the showground.
My husband’s flowering pot plant garnered a lot of interest this year with people asking what it was; it certainly is unusual – a Brugmansia. I was tasked with carrying it to the tent and being of a clumsy disposition envisioned myself tripping or knocking the flowers off on the tent doorway. We thankfully managed to get it in position without any dramas.
Now, there must be mention of the weather, it can make or break a show – indeed this year some events in the Whitby area had to be cancelled because the ground was so wet it was impossible to set up, clear down or walk around. We were lucky with Egton, the ground was a little spongy but vehicles didn’t sink and the day itself was a nice mix of sunshine and cloud. It can of course be too hot – last year we sat in the pouring rain getting wetter and wetter watching the horse jumping in the morning then burnt to a crisp in the afternoon. It is best to go prepared for all eventualities which I obviously didn’t manage last year or we would have had sun cream.
We love watching the sheepdog trials. The dogs are very clever and it really is an amazing relationship between farmer and canine employee. There is inevitably the naughty ewe who makes a run for it and the trio of sheep really can stand their ground if they so want.
Being from farming stock we know a lot of the people showing their sheep, cattle (didn’t see any pigs this year) and entering the horse jumping and in hand showing (leading a horse or pony), so it is a great place to catch up with those only seen once a year. The state of farming is often discussed and unfortunately it never seems to get any easier but farming is a passion not just a profession. Farmers love what they do but they must make enough to live on to continue with the job.
It's a truly family affair with generations showcasing their cattle and sheep. It’s so nice to see tiny tots parading around the ring clinging on for dear life to a calf – obviously they have been practising lots at home but the tension of the showring and the hundreds of spectators can do strange things to animals and humans alike.
The Shire horses are a joy to see and a huge amount of work goes in to preparing them for the day. Manes and tails are plaited, flights are woven into the manes, feathers (the hair around their hooves) are washed, fluffed and whitened and bridles are polished to gleam. Indeed the cattle and sheep are also washed and groomed and generally pampered. Most will have been handled from a young age so are amenable to walking on a halter and doing as asked. You cannot just pluck any sheep out of the field and expect it to perform.
There is always the beer tent, not frequented as much as a responsible parent, but many happy memories of doing generally stupid things after a day at the show.
Thoughts must turn to the volunteers who give their time throughout the year, in the run up to the show, on show day and in clearing up. It is a lot of hard work but definitely very much worth it.
Agricultural shows are an opportunity to showcase farming and rural life. There will be a show near you so why not seek it out for next year. A few are later in the year and are still to come but generally show season runs in July and August. If you want to have a go at baking, have some produce in the garden or enter something the children have made, then check the show is an open show as smaller ones like our Goathland Show are closed to non-residents - but even if you don’t show, just spectating provides you with a great day out.
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