Country Shows: Country Matters by the Hodge June 2019

By The Hodge

Photo by Stephanie Howells

‘I would go off to shows and fairs and write about the swollen vegetables, the waltzers, the Welsh cakes and the prize-winning cattle and sheep.’

Harry Pearson North Country Fair 1996

Summer is here and with it that quaint tradition that is as British as the country pub, Morris dancing and the Austin Allegro; the agricultural show. These can vary considerably from something not much grander than a posh fête with some pens of animals to one of the glorious national shows, covering three or four days, hundreds of acres of animals, displays, trade stands, food stalls and a lot else to entertain and amaze.

One of the largest in the country is now our own county show which, many decades ago, threw in its lot with its equivalents in Worcestershire and Herefordshire to become The Three Counties Show. Recognising its importance and stature in the worlds of farming, education and the countryside, it was granted royal status a few years ago and now, with a handful of others, is bestowed with the word to become, The Royal Three Counties Show.

The organising body is a charity dedicated to educating the public in matters of the countryside and promoting British agriculture, horticulture etc. The summer show is one of a number held on the permanent site at Malvern, (almost the nearest possible point to where the three counties meet), the others being Countrytastic for small children, The RHS Malvern Spring Festival celebrating everything gardening, National Show Stars – a competitive event for youngsters of all ages to become proficient in all aspects of showing – and the popular Malvern Autumn Show. The ground is also let out for third party events from autojumbles, to equine competitions to major quilting shows and more.

This year, the summer show will take place from Friday the 14th June to Sunday the 16th. As well as several thousand head of livestock – cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, alpacas, poultry, rabbits etc. from all over the country – all competing to be the best, there’s competitions of sheep shearing, demonstrations of farriery, Ask the Farmer, Meet the Groom and talks by BBC Countryfile’s Adam Henson – the show’s very own Farming Ambassador – there’s forestry displays, fishing tuition, falconry, vintage machinery, Welsh Axemen and a hundred and one other rural things to see and do. It’s also one of the largest shows of horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes in the country with top class show jumping to Shire horses drawing trade wagons. Something for everyone.

There’s so much going on it’s worth checking out the website – www.royalthreecounties.co.uk – but please don’t be overwhelmed. There’s something for everyone of every age and interest.

This year, for the first time, all accompanied children go free and the acres of car parks are also free. If you book in advance, then entry is discounted for even better value. You can spend the whole day there from 8am to 6pm and never get bored and if you want to avoid buying food at the show then bring a picnic and sit out on the grass – believe it or not, compared with other entertainments, it’s really excellent value for money.

So, come along to your very own county show in June. You will find me there in the Farming Village officiating over some of the livestock under a bowler hat. Perhaps our esteemed Editor might sponsor a little competition during the show to identify and photograph The Hodge – but beware, there are many bowlers on parade…

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Looking back, I see that The Hodge’s first contribution of Country Matters to this magazine was in June 2009 for publication in the July edition and that it has appeared (if sometimes only just making the deadline!) regularly, ever since, making 120 appearances in all over the intervening 10 years. How much longer I can find new subjects that might interest readers in and around Cirencester remains a mystery, but I shall endeavour to do so for a little longer…. Editor permitting of course.

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