A fes­tive fat­stock show

Devon Life - - Promot I O N -

An es­sen­tial date for the fes­tive sea­son di­ary across a wide swathe of Ex­moor and North Devon is South Molton’s Christ­mas Fat­stock Show.

The town’s Pan­nier and live­stock mar­kets stage a prized event which brings the coun­try to town. The his­toric Pan­nier Mar­ket is filled with prime sheep, pigs, dressed poul­try and other live­stock, demon­stra­tions of sheep shear­ing, thatch­ing and the arts of the black­smith and far­rier, to­gether with live mu­sic and the chance to sam­ple lo­cal pro­duce. The cat­tle classes are held in the nearby live­stock mar­ket and the lorry park stages dis­plays of trac­tors and farm ma­chin­ery old and new.

The show is a firm part of lo­cal Christ­mas­tide tra­di­tion, but was lost for more than four decades. The orig­i­nal event de­clined in mid-20th cen­tury and was staged for a fi­nal time in 1963. Then, to­wards the end of the first decade of the 21st cen­tury, three friends from the farm­ing com­mu­nity, Mor­ley Heal, Tony Pickard and David Lock­wood, who met reg­u­larly in the live­stock mar­ket, be­gan to dream of a re­vival.

Mor­ley Heal ex­plains: “We asked our­selves why we no longer had an event which re­ally high­lighted the im­por­tance of farm­ing to Ex­moor and North Devon, and at the same time gave peo­ple from all back­grounds a good day out at Christ­mas. We de­cided to re­vive the Fat­stock Show, with at first just a few pens of sheep and cat­tle in the live­stock mar­ket. Our next thought was to broaden its ap­peal and get it closer to the town. We thought it would be great to see live­stock back in the Pan­nier Mar­ket, and the show’s growth over 10 years has shown that farm­ers and pub­lic alike agree with us.”

The Pan­nier Mar­ket will host stalls of­fer­ing Christ­mas shop­ping ideas and food and drink avail­able will fea­ture lo­cal wine, cider, meats and cheeses. There will be com­pe­ti­tions for chil­dren and Young Farm­ers.

Each year the show makes char­i­ta­ble dona­tions. In 2017 £3,700 went to the North Devon Hos­pice and in 2018 the ben­e­fi­ciary will be Devon Air Am­bu­lance Trust.

Show chair­man Michael Ed­wards says: “When we first re­vived the show in 2008 we hoped it could once again be­come an an­nual event. We hardly dared to think that a decade later it would have the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing Devon’s premier in­de­pen­dent live­stock and pro­duce show. It makes the point per­fectly that agri­cul­ture is at the heart of South Molton.”

The Fat­stock Show is on Sun­day 2 De­cem­ber and is the cli­max of a week­end of cel­e­bra­tions.

South Molton Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion holds its Win­ter Won­der­land spec­tac­u­lar on the evening of Fri­day 30 Novem­ber with tra­di­tional rides, live mu­sic and chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment in the Square, com­ple­ment­ing late night shop­ping in the Pan­nier Mar­ket.

The parish church of St Mary Mag­da­lene is host­ing its Christ­mas Tree Fes­ti­val for five days, from Thurs­day 29 Novem­ber to Mon­day 3 De­cem­ber (in­clu­sive).

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