Tangible magic at Northumberland County Show
PUBLISHED: 18:25 28 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:37 20 February 2013
Jane Pikett joins 27,000 visitors and 5,000 animals at the Northumberland County Show - the highlight of the county's agricultural and summer events calendar
The print version of this article appeared in the July 2011 issue of North East Life
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In all my many years of visiting Northumberland County Show I have never, until this year, taken a seat to watch the sheep shearing.
As Ive wandered past the packed shearing tent and teetered on tip toe to peer above the heads of a crowd which is generally about 50-deep, I have wondered, to be honest, what the attraction is.
Well, now I know. Having spent half the morning rooted to a seat in the front row, I can report that this is as compelling competitive entertainment as any international football or rugby match.
The passion, commitment and skill required to succeed in this arena is in a class all of its own. Its also serious stuff, as evidenced by the fact that this year the ten-time world record holder and many-time world champion, New Zealander David Fagan, was entered.
The shearers worked their way through more than 800 sheep, trucked in for the day from the Chipchase Estate near Hexham. There were triumphs, disasters and the odd un-cooperative beast to contend with in an arena which, with its heady mix of town and country folk sharing the passion of competition, perfectly conveys the attraction of this show.
This is an almost tangible magic, created when town and country come together to celebrate our wonderful rural life as we have done for generations.
This merging of cultures takes us all back to our roots, and there is something within every member of the crowd - town or country-based - which shares a pride in the agricultural highlight of the day; the Grand Parade of Champions and Champion of Champion judging.
The parade, led this year by two magnificent police horses, qualifies as the moment most likely to bring a tear to the eye of anybody and this years Champion of Champions - a Texel gimmer as magnificent as any which has ever graced this historic show ground - was a star with the crowd as much for her looks as for her superb breeding.
Some 27,000 visitors spent the day together in Corbridge this May Bank Holiday, thankful that the rain held off and the high winds that hindered the erection of the marquees the previous week were absent.
Never work with children and animals, they say. Herd several thousand animals and a similar number of children on to a very large field in Northumberland, and the potential for something to go awry is obvious.
Yet it went along, as it generally does, without a hitch; the dedicated voluntary committee of Tyndale Agricultural Society which runs Northumberland County Show, most of them busy working farmers, able to sit back with a well-deserved pint as
the visitors left
and reflect on a job well done.
As the show chairman David Carr, a farmer who has lived and breathed this event all his life, says, theres nothing quite like it.
Its hard to put it into words, he says, what this show means to all of us who take part, and the people who come year after year. The livestock this year has been absolutely magnificent, the entertainment first class. Its a privilege to be involved.
Its worth noting that this voluntary committee put this show together year in, year out for the love of it and the proceeds are given away each year to good causes. How many huge events like this can claim such a thing?
How many can offer a fun fair, a working milking parlor, sheep shearing and horse shoeing displays on one field as monster trucks wreck old bangers to the delight of the crowds in the main arena?
The big attraction of the day in more ways than one this year was, for most, the big trucks. Monster truck Big Pete, the largest in Europe, and its sidekick The Grim Reaper, defy the laws of mechanics and science with their surprisingly graceful wrecking spree, leaping in the air and coming down to land on hapless old bangers a quarter of their size. It was magnificent entertainment, and warmly received.
Over the other side of the show field, the alpaca section charmed all-comers, as did the show guinea pigs, which get my award for the most glamorous exhibits on the field.
What the wonderful variety of this show conveys more than anything else is that there is something for every generation - man, woman, child or beast - that can be brought to a big field in a sleepy Northumberland village once a year and everyone will find something to enjoy.
This year, there were 5,000 exhibitors on the show field who entered 800 classes. Is there anything which better embraces
our passion for our countryside? I think not.
Meanwhile, the committee is already planning next years event. Northumberland County Show 2012 takes place at Tynedale Park, Corbridge, on Bank Holiday Monday, June 4, 2012. n
If you attended this years Northumberland County Show, tell us what you liked best. Leave a comment below