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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Cumbria’s country shows

One of the great unsung attractions of Cumbria are its many agricultural and country shows which take place every year between May and October. If you’ve not been to one before I certainly recommend them because they give you a real insight into the farming and rural life of this part of the world.

The shows are very much part of local communities and were originally established to promote different breeds of cattle, sheep and heavy horse, and the crops which the farmers grew. Showing and judging livestock is at the heart of most of the days but there are plenty of other attractions as well.

You might see food tents selling Cumbrian produce, show jumping, farm machinery, poultry tents, trade stands, gundogs, terrier racing, fell ponies, working hunters, shows of light and heavy horses and Cumberland Westmorland wrestling. Not all of these things, however, are at every show.

There are often competitions for floral art, handicrafts, stickmaking, flowers, vegetables, baking and cake making. Four raspberry buns, three squares of gingerbread or a dish of rum butter might be three of the classes. And for children there could be a prize for the best farm on a biscuit tin lid or a creature made from fruit and vegetables. One show has a trophy for the dog with the waggiest tale.

Personally I like seeing the shows of livestock - heaps of work goes into making sure the animals look their best - and the poultry area, if there is one. But I usually make a beeline too for the local produce tent and what’s called the industrial tent where home baking and creativity are on display.

We’ve just had the Lowther Show but amongst those still to come are the Brough Show on Thursday, Rusland Show, Gosforth Show and Ravenstonedale Show this Saturday, the Lakeland Country Fair at Torver near Coniston on Sunday, Hawkshead Show next Tuesday (23rd), Dufton Show, Millom and Broughton Agricultural Show and Patterdale Dog Day on Saturday, August 27.

Grasmere Lakeland Sports and Show takes place on Sunday, August 28, Black Combe Country Fair the day after that, and then there are plenty more in September, including the impressive Westmorland Show near Kendal on September 8.

I might just add that ioomi, the company which designed this website, have also developed a ‘dedicated events management piece of software’, aimed at agricultural and county shows. It’s 21st century technology managing centuries old tradition.

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