Thursday, 21 May 2015

Devon County Show: "When we can give our farmers a well deserved pat on the back."

It's that time of year again - although the Devon County Show does offer other treats at other times:
Futures Forum: Devon County Show Lamb Shearing and Dog Trials at Home Farm in Sidbury

The Herald takes us through the main attractions:

Devon County Show opens today at Westpoint, Exeter

07:00 21 May 2015

Devon County Show 2012. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 9931-20-12AW. To order your copy of this photograph, go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Myphotos24

Organisers of the Devon County Show are putting the final touches to the county’s largest annual event, which opens today (Thursday) and runs until May 23 at Westpoint, Exeter

More than 95,000 visitors are expected for the three-day show, which celebrates local farming, food and country life.

“The atmosphere at the showground is like Christmas Eve,” said show secretary Ollie Allen. “We can’t wait to throw open the gates on Thursday morning and welcome people to the show which is packed with all that’s great about Devon life.”

Among the first-day visitors at the 120th show will be HRH The Princess Royal, who is expected to meet local farmers and members of the armed forces.

Farming is at the heart of the show and it will be packed with livestock, agricultural machinery and suppliers. “We’re providing stalls for around 600 beef and dairy cattle, pens for 1,400 sheep, not to mention stables for 1,000 horses plus accommodation for hundreds more animals,” said Ollie.

Other entertainment includes motocross stunt team the Bolddog Lings, equestrian-action, rugby and a fun Devon attractions’ mascot race on Saturday. Children will be able to get hands-on in Farm Wise Devon, a huge new food and farming feature.

There will be lots of food and drink, reflecting Devon’s growing stature as one of the finest food producing counties. The popular Ales from Devon feature is stocking up on real ale and traditional ciders, ready to serve around 10,000 pints. Local crafts will be high profile and housed in the biggest marquee ever built on the showground.

There are opportunities for visitors to have a go - from learning to drive a tractor, leading an alpaca around a show ring to rolling a candle in the bees and honey feature.

After last year’s exceptionally wet weather, around £80,000 has been spent on improving the show’s car parks and land drainage. There is also more parking – 132 acres this year compared to 116 last year.

Devon County Show opens today at Westpoint, Exeter - What's on - Sidmouth Herald

It's all about farming - and Devon is still very much a farming county:
homepage | Devon County Show

Which is how the Western Morning News sees it:

WMN opinion: Devon County Show is about connection and celebration

By Western Morning News | Posted: May 18, 2015

Pip, Little Nell and Trojan with Miranda Hopkins from Wellington Farm in Wilmington at the Devon County Show on May 20 2004

Being told off at work is not a great feeling, but on the other hand there are few better than being given a pat on the back.

Acknowledging achievement and accomplishment is something few of us too often. Next week, the great celebration of rural Devon that is the Devon County Show will be upon us again. After last year’s wash-out all of us will be praying for fine weather. This will be the 120th county show and farmers and producers from far and wide will converge on Westpoint to show off their livestock and the products of years of labour.

This great annual gathering is a firm date in the county’s diary and while today’s show may be almost unrecognisable from those of just a few years ago, as Anthony Gibson points out on this page today, agriculture remains firmly at its heart.

Devon’s grand parade will soon be followed by The Royal Bath and West, the biggest agricultural show in England, and then Royal Cornwall.

In their wake will follow the one-day shows in communities up and down the South West peninsula, right up until the first week in September.

These events, many of which have been running for at least 100 years, have moved with the times, catering to modern tastes and reflecting modern interests. But at their heart they remain about the important business of rearing livestock, producing food and managing the landscape. And in an age when far more people than ever before are disconnected from those three things, the role of the agricultural show has seldom been more important.

The big shows will be packed with thousands of people who may never know the difference between a heiffer and a hoggett – but who will try and buy produce from exhibitors in bulk.

That is precisely what shows are all about.

And in doing so they will have seen the beef cattle, from which the meat in their burgers is made, rubbed shoulders with the farmers who look after the landscapes they love and – hopefully – made the critical connection between the magnificent countryside and the farming that keeps it looking that way. At the same time those farmers utilise the best of the landscape to make the food and drink we all need. The shows are where we can appreciate that work up close, and it also when we can give our farmers a well deserved pat on the back.

Bicton College riders to demonstrate their skills at Devon County
It's Devon County Show time and the WMN wants to meet you!
Farming at the heart of Westcountry's rapidly changing county shows
PICTURES: Devon County Show through the years 

WMN opinion: Devon County Show is about connection and celebration | Western Morning News

Bicton agricultural college will be there too:
Devon County Show 2015: Bicton College showcase rare pigs | Exeter Express and Echo

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