The joys of a clas­sic coun­try show.

THE PRE­SEN­TER GOES BE­HIND THE SCENES ON HIS SHOWS AND FAM­ILY FARM NO BUSI­NESS LIKE COUN­TRY-SHOW BUSI­NESS

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

Watch Matt and the team on Coun­try­file ev­ery Sun­day evening on BBC One. Grow­ing up, ev­ery year with­out fail we would head to the Great York­shire Show. It was a high­light of the year and that feel­ing of ex­cite­ment has stayed with me all my life.

GREEN MAN, RED ROSETTE

My first mem­ory of a coun­try show, how­ever, is not agri­cul­tural at all. It’s of sit­ting on the kitchen ta­ble, be­ing painted green for my ap­pear­ance as the In­cred­i­ble Hulk in the fancy-dress con­test. I re­mem­ber feel­ing on top of the world as I wan­dered around the show with my first-place red rosette proudly pinned to my torn shirt.

Coun­try shows are some­thing we of­ten visit as a fam­ily. I love the buzz of the live demon­stra­tions of the ex­hibitors’ year of hard work and prepa­ra­tion, the sight of all the coloured flags blow­ing in the breeze, the sound of the muf­fled tinny tan­noy and the rows of sad­dlery stalls – not to men­tion the op­por­tu­nity to sit in the lat­est farm ma­chin­ery and work out what new im­ple­ment is for what job.

Coun­try shows have cer­tainly evolved over time. Their orig­i­nal pur­pose was sim­ply to let the farm­ers and grow­ers show each other what they are ca­pa­ble of in the farm­ing year by dis­play­ing their pro­duce – while hav­ing a well-earned day off. Th­ese days the shows are all about ‘the coun­try life­style’, break­ing down the bar­ri­ers be­tween town and coun­try Fan­tas­tic fury: lit­tle Matt in his In­cred­i­ble Hulk cos­tume, for which he won first prize. folk and act­ing as a mag­net to wel­come ev­ery­one into the green stuff. This is where I see similarities be­tween the shows and Coun­try­file – both of­fer an eclec­tic mix of all sorts go­ing on, brought to­gether in one place.

LUM­BER­JACK OF ALL TRADES

Over the years, both on and away from Coun­try­file, I’ve been in­volved in many facets of coun­try shows and my ex­pe­ri­ences are a good ex­am­ple of what will be on of­fer this sum­mer. In my time, I have hal­ter trained rams to show in the ring, raced to the top of a tree trunk in a lum­ber­jack tree-climb­ing com­pe­ti­tion, taken the reins car­riage-rac­ing and driven vin­tage steam en­gines. I’ve flown birds of prey in fal­conry dis­plays and judged sheep and cat­tle at the Royal Welsh Show.

But in front of this en­ter­tain­ing back­drop, don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of those red first-prize cards and rosettes, dis­played in the an­i­mal sec­tion, and what they mean to the pride and – cru­cially – busi­nesses of the top breed­ers in the county. A coun­try show is like a farmer’s shop win­dow, where they are hon­oured for their skill. This recog­ni­tion of what they have pro­duced within their breed is a big deal. For me, th­ese days I have em­pa­thy with the live­stock on show. Be­cause by be­ing “that bloke off the telly”, I know what it feels like to be one of the ex­hibits!

DON’T MISS ON

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.