Mud after eve-of-show deluge doesn't stop the fun at Honiton
Mud, glorious mud – oceans of it. But it failed to dampen spirits at the 2012 Honiton Agricultural Show yesterday.
"I'm so glad we went ahead. We needed it to lift our spirits," said secretary Marcelle Connor, as the crowds teemed through the gates for England's largest one-day agricultural show.
"In many ways it's been such a difficult year for our farmers so we really wanted to provide them with a good day out in the sun, putting on a show for Devon and fun in the mud for everyone."
A heavy deluge of rain on Wednesday put the event – already rescheduled because of the weather from the beginning of the month – in some doubt, but the permanent showground is owned by the Honiton Agricultural Association and the main roadways are metalled, so the whole event was feasible.
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"We thought it was vital to go ahead, all the tents were up and everything was ready thanks to nearly 100 stewards and volunteer helpers," said Mrs Connor, who has run the show for six years.
Postponing the show from August 2 had caused some cancellations, but their waiting lists had filled up the gaps.
"We have been incredibly well supported this year," she added. "For example, our poultry numbers are 200 up on ever before. So despite a five-hour torrent yesterday there was no giving up.
"My last phone call came after 1am today, from a man in Dorset inquiring if we were going ahead – because Honiton Show was the highlight of his year."
The event attracts an annual attendance of around 25,000 and among them was local MP Neil Parish, who was full of praise for the organisers.
"It's lovely to see a traditional show especially for the farming community, including so much machinery," he said. "This is a proper old-fashioned show providing a great opportunity for the farming community to get together. The organisers have staged such a successful event despite some horrendous weather."
To save the ground, the livestock, which always form the heart of the show, were not delivered to their pens by lorry, but were unboxed on the nearest hard standing.
"We left our lorry near the horse lines and galloped the sheep up to the pens," said Louise Moorhouse from Doddiscombsleigh, who produced the champion Beltex.
In the Interbreed Championship, judge Andrew Palk selected a four-year-old Charollais ewe from Gerald Burrough's well-known flock from nearby Dunkeswell.
"She loves showing and won at the Royal Cornwall, with a second at the Devon County and the Royal Bath and West this year," said Mr Burrough who has an 80-ewe flock at Shaldon Grange and has been showing Charollais for 12 years.
Interbreed dairy championship went to the appropriately named Shower, a four-year-old Holstein cow from Brian Miller's Moorshard Herd at Bridgwater, a winner at this year's Royal Cornwall Show and last year's Dairy Show at Shepton Mallet. "She has a lovely temperament," said Mr Miller, who sells his milk through the Dairy Crest contract to Waitrose supermarkets. "She gave 9,000 litres last year and calved successfully in April."
There were no surprises when leading veteran showman Colin Hutchings from Brompton Regis won the Beef Interbreed Championship with his Aberdeen Angus bull Kingsbrompton Endeavour.