A festive fatstock show
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).