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Stackyard News Feb 2010

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Northumberland County Show Knows its Strengths…

“I’ve seen the show go from strength to strength” says newly appointed Northumberland County Show Chairman, David Carr “collectively as a committee we know what’s good, how to make it work, where we are going and what we want to achieve. We’re not simply organizing a good day out; we are committed to encouraging all our young farmers to show and get involved and to stress to our visitors how important local farming is to the stability of our future food supply”.

Calf handling class at the Northumberland County Show 2009

Calf handling class

Strong words from this year’s chairman and important ones too. Show Day’s are important socially historical events. “Our event is the biggest in the region (attracting 26,000+ in recent years) and we’re aware of our responsibilities to tradition” he continues.

Built on the ashes of a former show known as The Tyneside Show, with an almost 125 year old history but sadly bankrupted by 1970, the Tyneside was reported in the 1950’s as a ‘Mecca for agriculturalists, country folk and townsmen alike’.’ with Corbridge itself being described as the ‘agricultural capital’ of the county for one day only!

Calf handling class

Record entries of 4,000 were reported in 1956 with 437 cattle, 200 sheep, 65 Clydesdales and 110 wrestlers amongst them trying their luck with 70 trade stands, mostly agricultural machinery; stock was reported as being worth over £100,000 at the 1954 show and a crowd of 40,000 was reported at the 1955 show. 10,000 visitors arrived by train and almost 1,500 per hour by car in the afternoon‘.

A 1953 report stated “They will come, the farmers and the factory workers, the shepherds and the shipbuilders and the men and women from many walks of life to cast their amateur and professional eyes over the 3,000 entries which represent the agricultural wealth of the county, the industry of its farmers, the skill of its craftsmen, the patience of its needlewomen and the diligence of its gardeners.”

Calf handling class

Very little has changed. Crowds of today’s Northumberland County Show, begun on the same site in 1981 are upwards of 25,000 and may seem small in comparison to those Fifties shows yet are ‘at capacity’ within the 35 acre site because of the more varied range of displays and attractions on offer. Equestrian classes these days account for 400+ entries and take up more acreage than cattle and sheep combined, today’s alpacas would have seemed alien and the thought of a food festival like the hugely popular Journal sponsored ‘Taste of the County’ food event would have seemed gluttonous to a nation just recovering from the war and ration books.

Calf handling class

Today’s show, to mirror the Chairman’s words, isn’t just a good day out. It is enjoyed still by country and towns people alike and yes they come in their droves, but the shows primary business is “to show support to the farmer, create accolades for excellent husbandry and stock and help enthuse and educate the next generation of agriculturists” continues David.

Tyneside show secretary Mr. John Spark’s official line prior to the 1954 show was “Come early if you want to see everything”; today’s Northumberland County Show secretary Gaynor Shotton would agree wholeheartedly and would perhaps add “be prepared to stay late as well!”

Northumberland County Show: Corbridge, Northumberland
Date: Monday 31st May 2010 Time: 9am to 6pm

link Cumberland Show Hosts Biggest Display of Cattle
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Northumberland County Show