The Northumberland County Show on May Bank Holiday Monday (this year on the 25th) is the first of the northern region shows and has become an important precursor to the rest of the summer agricultural events.
The show attracts exhibitors from Yorkshire and The Borders as well as the ‘home’ counties of Cumbria, Co. Durham, Teesside and Northumberland itself who join with a local rural and urban ‘audience’ to enjoy the regions finest agricultural exhibits and entertainment. An almost beyond capacity crowd of 26,000 attended last years show.
The morning showfield is busy with judging in all livestock, equine and animal sections; individual section champions are announced from lunchtime onwards and the highlight of the day, the Grand Parade, takes to the main arena for the overall Champion of Champions judging.
The event attracts a wide variety of cattle, heavy horse, goat and sheep entries and included for the first time last year a new Zwartbles class; the nearby shearing competitive display arena, usually packed to the gunwales, is now recognised as a ‘qualifier’ for the English Shearer of the Year and attracts shearers from all over the country. The new-ish Alpaca section has so proven its worth it has now extended its show site to include a viewing area and last years new dairy display with a fully working milking parlour is also back by popular demand.
Elsewhere around the showfield, the Countryside area houses the Fur and Feather Tent packed with potential poultry, rabbit and cavy champions. Competitive Home Crafts stages its traditional baking, preserves and handicrafts classes and the nearby stick dressing both represent traditions virtually unchanged for half a century. The Dog section ‘housed’ in the nearby cricket ground attracts over 700 entries from the professional breeder to the humble pet owner and the popular Equestrian Section works very hard to encourage local riders as well as welcome entries from all over the country. Previous successes at the show have resulted in Horse of the Year appearances.
The day represents both a local and excellent value day out for all the family combining fun with an easy to digest agricultural education. It’s a day when everyone can see at close quarters what our regions farmers are producing and how farming techniques, their livestock and the landscape has evolved to produce the foodstuffs the region is justly proud. The regions daily newspaper The Journal is bringing its own Taste festival to the event with 60 local food and drink producers called ‘Taste of the County’ in support of its Buy, Use, Eat Local campaign.
The main ring entertainment this year features world record holder Australian Matt Coulter (The Kangaroo Kid), the former Italian and UK Champion Quad biker who is these days a top stunt entertainment with his Harley Davidson Buell. He’ll spin and wheelie and jump over anything in his path, hence the Kangaroo nickname. A World Record attempt at ‘most-legs-a-dog-can-run-through’ will also take place in the main arena with 1,000 volunteers, the current record stands at 700; it is hoped to achieve Guinness Book of Records status. The Pony Club Games will also take main arena time showing the skill and dexterity over their charges in this their celebratory 80th year.
Current chairman of The Tynedale Agricultural Society, a volunteer organisation, Thomas Harrison sums it up ‘One of our biggest drives is education; educating our visitors about farming; how we produce and care for our livestock, how we use the land, where our food comes from and who the modern farmer is today… it’s not hard to learn when the day is also a lot of fun.’
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