As the day draws nearer I imagine our village kitchens are a buzz with cake baking as folk prepare/test/finalise their cakes and scones. Jam is no doubt already in jars, all that’s needed is a polish of the glass and a gentle press to confirm the cellophane is taut.
Children are planning which vegetables can be twisted and turned into dinosaurs. This was a popular one with my children. Susan and George at the farmshop where we buy our greengroceries would identify possibilities as the day drew nearer. A constant favourite with the youngsters is, of course, the Edible necklace – I often thought it was more about ensuring a collection of sweets to be eaten later rather than the strive to produce an item of great beauty.
Although we are a small old market town (that no longer has a market) the annual show draws interest from across the north east. This, I guess, is due to the broad variety of activity on the day.
There are a number of classes for cattle and the sight of a huge Bull walking proudly in the ring still makes me stop and stare.
Horse lovers are truly spoilt as the 3 rings – Show Jumping, Pony Club and Individual Horse classes – are busy from the off. In previous years the local Hunt would attend for a short gallop around the rings and offer an opportunity to meet the Hounds. Whatever your thoughts of hunting as a sport the partnership between man and dog and the sight of the pack in the field is one of awe.
Alongside the sheep and goats the small animal tent is always busy. Why is it children, no matter how often they are told not to, still love poking their fingers into the cages of rabbits and guinea pigs totally ignoring the threat of been bitten? The number of poultry entrants did not look as high as normal this year, which surprised me as the number of people now having hens in their back gardens is growing (for the first time I will be in charge of a friend’s hens shortly, makes a change from going into neighbours’ gardens to water during holiday breaks – and I am promised eggs everyday)
The weather is always the decider as to how successful such shows are – and the forecast is the topic of conversation in the week leading up to the event. This year was good – cloudy, so not too hot, and dry (that is the most important element as wet weather keeps the crowds away and increases the risk of injuries to horse riders, they slip and slide as the ground turns to mud) Luckily this year the Medics in attendance had a peaceful day with only minor concerns.
If animals are not your thing and standing over boiling pans of fruit with a thermometer waiting for the ‘setting point’ would be your equivalent of ‘watching grass grow’ then do not despair as there are many other sections of interest at county shows.
Alongside the Funfair there are stalls operated by small businesses and charities where bespoke items can be purchased, many of which make unusual gifts. Food carts offer the usual hotdogs, burgers and my treat of the Year – Hog Roast Bun with apple sauce.
Although I have no great interest in motor vehicles even I enjoy the wander around the Vintage Tractors and Cars.
The owners must spend hours with the polishing cloth – and are always keen to talk about the merits of their particular model.
The Dog Show, always busy and so popular it also needs more than one ring to meet the high number of entrants. This year I was surprised by all the extras the owners brought with them. I remember when dog and owner arrived with blanket, lead and comb. Then it progressed to small cages for the dogs to rest in. This year there was tents, special umbrellas for the cages, individual grooming tables etc. I think I spent more time looking at the equipment then looking at the dogs.
There is a sense of apprehension and hope as the Home Craft Tent is opened to the public once judging is complete. Well I knew my jam would not be listed – I knocked it over as I placed it on the table and messed up the seal. Husband had a much more successful day and showed once again that he knows what to do with a preserving pan.
Above all, such days are what makes a community. Although many of the entrants do come from outside the area the organising and preparation is all local and the required communications helps underpin our sense of belonging, of being part of what makes our ‘village’ what it is. And – most important – it is a great opportunity just to wander with family and friends and catch up with the gossip.
Roll on next year.