It’s Show Time
2017 is shaping up to be fantastic year for agricultural shows.
With its long, curved horns and tousled auburn coat adorning many a shortbread tin, the hairy Highland cow is one of the most distinctive and enduring symbols of rural Scotland, and amid all today’s talk of wilderness, it is an apt reminder that this is also proud farming country, a fact that villages and towns throughout the region celebrate with a summer fixture, the agricultural show.
These events are the much-anticipated forum for serious farmers to show off their carefully- bred and - reared livestock, from those Highland bulls and heifers, to sheep, poultry, and even llamas, in the hope of winning prizes that are far more about reputation than reward. They are also a much anticipated social occasion, bringing together visitors and residents of all ages.
Most shows include competitions in trade and craft categories, from making jam and knitting, to carving sticks and growing vegetables, with the work submitted on display for the public to browse throughout the day. They are lively, good- natured events, but the competition is tough.
Agricultural shows are a highlight of the West Coast’s social calendar. These events are important for the farming community, but they are also an entertaining day out for the family. They celebrate everything to do with agriculture and the countryside, and feature the usual demonstrations and judging of farm animals, as well as parades, music, arts, crafts, food and fun activities. Stalls offer local fare, pipe bands provide the soundtrack and the atmosphere is always festive.
As well as being a chance to socialise with like- minded folk, exchange views and news and maybe partake of a dram or two, these shows have a serious side to them. They are an opportunity to showcase stock, add to their value if rosettes come their way and assess the competition.
Some shows are known for their sheep stock judging, where the animals are brought off the hills, cleaned up and inspected, talked over and examined with great detail.
Fleeces are brushed and fluffed, horns are polished and hooves cleaned before they are turned into the ring where they are scrutinised by not only the judges, but neighbouring farmers and shepherds.
Other shows are known for their cattle, such as Dalmally, where Highland cattle from folds all over the country are brought for judging in the hopes of taking away the supreme champion title, or Kintyre, where dairy farming is so important to the community.
Other shows are smaller, but no less important to their communities, affording a way to gather, showcase crafts, home produce, baking and let off steam after a long winter.
West Ardnamurchan Show and Sport Friday July 21
Enjoy a fantastic family fun day in beautiful surroundings at Kilchoan’s well- established show and sports day. The agriculture show runs from 9.30am to noon, with all the main events starting at noon. Attractions include an all- day barbecue and bar, the senior and junior heavy events, junior sports, children’s amusements from 11.30am, the pet parade and races, tug- o- war, stalls, baking and horticulture competitions, senior and junior road races, and the show dance which is on from 9pm until 1am with entertainment from the Dunmore Ceilidh Band. For more information, go to at http:// westardnamurchannews. blogspot.com.
Kintyre Agricultural Show Friday August 4
Kintyre Agricultural Society runs the annual Kintyre Agricultural Show on August 4, which has been going strong for more than 100 years. Being a strong dairy farming community in Kintyre, this is one of the few shows in the area to have a strong dairy cattle competition. Held at Anderston Park in Campbeltown, the day includes a pipe band, sheep, cattle and rare breeds judging, tug- o- war and a dog show.
Bunessan Show Friday August 4
The Bunessan Agricultural Show on the Ross of Mull on August 4 is one of two agricultural shows on the island. And, while it may be smaller scale than some of the mainland shows, it is no less busy or entertaining, with a wide range of competitions to cover all interests. Held at Bunessan school, there is stock judging, as well as a full competition list for those with other interests, including homebaking, handicrafts, gardening, preserves and a children’s section.
Lorn Agricultural Show Saturday August 5
The Lorn Show will be held August 5, and has gone from strength to strength following a move in 2012 from Dunstaffnage back to Tralee beach, where common grazing land is used to host the show looking over the magnificent Tralee Bay. Open from 10am to 5pm, this is a popular show with both the farming community and the surrounding villages and the entries into everything from the horsemanship competitions to the dog show reflect that. The morning is given over to the serious business of stock- judging and the afternoon sees everyone let their hair down a little, with stalls, light- hearted competitions, children’s activities, dancing and a pipe band providing entertainment.
Salen Agricultural Show Thursday August 10
Held August 10, the Salen show is Mull’s second agricultural show of the year, this time at Salen showground at Aros and is one of the highlights of the farming year. Alongside the stock judging, horse show, food and craft stalls, and dog show is the popular terrier racing and horticultural and produce tent showcasing the island’s talent. Visitors and locals alike look forward to this fun day out for the entire family.
Islay, Jura and Colonsay Agricultural Show Thursday August 10
As the name suggest, this show draws competitors and visitors from the three islands to Bridgend on Islay. This year’s show is held August 10, and alongside the stock judging of sheep, pigs, cattle and horses, there is also a gymkhana, side stalls of food, crafts and other goods, a pipe band, dog show and plenty to keep the children occupied. The céilidh dance in the evening is always a popular way to wind down after the day’s events and usually goes on into the wee hours.
Mid Argyll Show Saturday August 12
Mid Argyll Show is a major event for the farming community in the area with stock judging of cattle, sheep, dogs, horses, ponies and poultry. There is a display of vintage tractors and a well- supported pet show. And there will be a wonderful new attraction at this year’s show when four sets of coach and horses will be at the event. Mid Argyll Pipe Band will play and the trade stands will feature everything from gifts to heavy farming equipment.
Sunart and District Agricultural Show Saturday August 12
Loch Sunart provides the lovely backdrop for Sunart’s annual show on August 10 at Strontian show field, where stock judging of cattle, sheep and poultry takes place alongside crafts and home produce. The show starts with a pipe band parade, while around the show ring girls and boys will take to the boards for the Highland dancing competitions. A special feature of this year’s show will be an after party dance featuring Trail West. Always a family- friendly and fun show, it is the highlight of the local social calendar and a must- see for visitors to the area.
Appin Agricultural Show Saturday August 19
The setting for Appin Agricultural Show has to be near the top of the list of the most picturesque, looking out as it does over Loch Linnhe to Castle Stalker. Held on August 19, this is the Appin Show’s 60th anniversary This small but perfectly formed show is renowned for its after- show dance in the village hall, but during the day it is a focal point for the community, with a good show of stock, including from the island of Lismore, and a variety of entertainment, from children’s sports and dancing to young farmers testing their strength.
Dalmally Agricultural Show Saturday September 2
The final agricultural show in the West Highlands calendar on September 2, the Dalmally show at the village’s mart is known for its Highland cattle competitions, with entries from all over Scotland.
At this well-attended show, visitors will enjoy a wide variety of attractions such as the ever popular shinty match, trade stalls, stock judging and terrier racing. The judging includes Highland and commercial beef cattle, blackface sheep, dogs, poultry, baking and preserves, as well as displays of handicrafts and horticulture.