A Hume Hit the Road

Archie Hume of A Hume Coun­try Cloth­ing pays trib­ute to Scot­land’s coun­try shows and fairs

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Scot­tish sum­mer­time doesn’t come with many guar­an­tees, cer­tainly not any that re­late to the weather. As the joke goes ‘I love sum­mer in Scot­land. Last year it was on a Wed­nes­day.’ To top it off, the things you can rely on, like midges on the West Coast and an even greater num­ber of pelo­tons on the roads aren’t nec­es­sar­ily a good thing.

Just as well then that we have our County Shows to look for­ward to. I know from ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence, that here in the Bor­ders, the Border Union Show gives my many farm­ing chums a fo­cus be­yond their two sum­mer ex­tremes of star­ing out their com­bine wind­screens for­lornly wait­ing for the rain to stop or moan­ing about the drought ru­in­ing their crops if it’s been dry for more than three days. And, more im­por­tantly, it gives the rest of us coun­try folk the chance for a big day out, shop­ping, so­cial­is­ing, nib­bling and tip­pling

We take the A Hume road­show along to the Scot­tish Game Fair at Scone Palace, com­ing up soon from the 5th – 7th July. And also to the Border Union Show at Spring­wood Park, on the 26th and 27th of July. As fren­zied as it is, those days are amongst the most en­joy­able of any through­out the year. There’s al­ways a drop or two of fizz on the stand and a fes­ti­val at­mos­phere – there are peo­ple I might not see all year­round but you can ab­so­lutely bet I’ll see them at the show.

Tens of thou­sands visit the Scot­tish Game Fair and the big­gest of them all, the Royal High­land Show, is said to con­trib­ute £65m to the Scot­tish econ­omy. On a large scale, or a

smaller county scale they are a chance for the coun­try­side to show off, our best beasts, fan­ci­est trac­tors, our skills, tra­di­tions and our way of life.

A win at a prom­i­nent show is a coup for a farm’s for­tunes so com­pe­ti­tion is fierce. The county show may well be a seenand-be-seen ex­trav­a­ganza of well-dressed coun­try folk cut­ting a dash in their tweed but you can be sure that none of them are more pampered and preened than the live­stock. The pens bus­tle like a Man­hat­tan sa­lon to a sound­track of snip­ping sheers and hair dry­ers run­ning off por­ta­ble gen­er­a­tors as the beefi­est of High­land Beef and chirpy Che­viots get the full spa treat­ment.

Spec­tat­ing at the show ring is al­ways a highlight of any show. Show­ing live­stock is such a proud mo­ment, of­ten a multi-gen­er­a­tional af­fair, a time when younger mem­bers of farm­ing fam­i­lies are the envy of their ru­ral class­mates be­cause they get to skip school to put on a white coat and show the fam­ily sheep.

If you grew up in the coun­try­side you’ll al­most cer­tainly have memories of the county show. The shows have a big ed­u­ca­tional role to play in teach­ing chil­dren and the wider public about agri­cul­ture, though I’m not sure ex­actly what lessons the lit­tle boy next to me at last year’s High­land Show took home. As I stood watch­ing a pipe band I over­hear him ask his dad ‘Why do pipers walk as they play?’ to which his dad replied, ‘To get away from the noise.’

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