The country show – a great day out!
It’s great to know that on some sunny Saturday, you can still get up close and personal with an Alpaca, listen to a heart lifting brass band, or watch a sheep dog demonstration. You may even be able to watch some dry stone walling. This is a fascinating art responsible for so many of our countryside walls which using only the right stones in the right place.
The produce tent.
Another feature of all country shows are competitions for a large number of items produced or made by the local community. The baking competitions include large cakes, cup cakes, scones, jams and pies. There are competitions for every type of vegetable and even for eggs. One of my favourite categories was best ‘creature using both fruit and vegetables’ – classic!
Many local bakers take their work very seriously and there are some fabulous looking creations. These competitions have been going on for a century of more – long before the Great British Bake Off was popular.
Getting crafty with crooks
There was genuine artistry on display in the shepherd’s crook carving competition. A shepherd’s crook is not only an image that appears in ancient to modern art, but is also a very useful tool. Shepherds use them to navigate fields of varying height or uneven terrain, apparently.
The crook symbol, a stick with a c-curve at the top, looking much like an oversized candy cane, has been in existence for millennia. The crook and the flail were two symbols associated with the ancient Egyptian god, Osiris. Pharaohs carried such crooks to evoke the godlike nature of their rule, and also as symbolic that they shepherded or led their people. Here endeth the crook lesson.
The country show – going to the races!
Many areas of rural Britain stage some version of the country show. It is a real part of our countryside culture. The Slaley Show in Northumberland is a very much a community agricultural show. The time I visited it was a glorious day. It was so unexpectedly busy that the hog roast ran out of hog at 2 o’clock and the Golden Fleece Bar ran out of Devil’s Elbow Ale not long after that.
The thing that attracted me the most was the promise of viewing both ferret and terrier racing (but NOT together) which is not something you can see every day. Ferrets are quite charming animals although they do have very sharp teeth and have a reputation for wearing a bit too much ‘Eau de ferret’ for some people’s taste. They are beautiful funny and affectionate. And boy can they run down a plastic pipe at speed!
There were prizes for best ferret in each colour class. Ferret hues include Sandy, Polecat, Albino, Silver and Coloured. And of course best in show, is the top accolade for a first class ferret.
The country show – terrier racing!
It was time for the Terrier racing. Every local family with a small dog with any relation to a terrier was keen to join in. They were ready to propel them into the small wooden dog traps and see them race in pursuit of a fake furry tail pulled along at speed on a piece of rope.
There were a number of heats before the grand final. Some of the terriers got the idea pretty sharpish and were out of the stalls and across the field like lightening. Others went off at a tangent, unsure what it was they were meant to be chasing. Some, like a rather dim Bedlington terrier just stood still in the middle of the field looking around in a confused manner. It was all a lot of laughs for everyone and a definite highlight as far as I was concerned
Check out perfect poultry at the country show