The idea of an agricultural show may seem unfamiliar territory to urbanites but don’t let images of tweed, wellies and prize bulls put you off; there’s a fine day in store with plenty to keep the family entertained.
Having grown up in a rural area I’ve always been used to the annual show, which was always a highlight on the calendar regardless of whether you were part of the farming community. I rather forgot about them during years living in London but happily rediscovered them and introduced my wife to the shows when we moved out to the shires. In the home counties surrounding the capital, county shows are big affairs attracting thousands of visitors from far and wide.
A few years ago we visited the Hertfordshire show, near Hatfield, which covered a sprawling site over a weekend. Today’s show – the Bucks County Show – is on a weekday but being during the summer holidays it’s filled with families. We took animal-loving Tilly along to see what she’d make of it.
Showgrounds are typically broken into several sections: display arenas, judging areas, retailers, entertainment and food being the main ones. We find this works well for a day out, as you can intersperse watching the animals with shopping for mum and dad. Our toddler loves spotting the animals, being identified by their respective noises: “moo!” “baa!” “neigh!” were regularly exclaimed with delight, while for older children there’s a fun fair section. Meanwhile, I got some well-priced weatherproof clothing for autumn and winter walks, my wife stocked up on some quality foods and a handmade designer wallet.
The site is a decent size, and making a couple of laps of the animals we easily spent half a day at the show. Being always awoken early, we took the initiative and got their shortly after opening at 8am; a good move as we were heading out while the crowds was coming in at around 11am, making getting around with the pushchair more challenging. With older children you could easily while away much of the day, taking in the various parades and entertainment in the main arena and taking in the demonstrations ranging from the sheep show to cooking.
A county show isn’t necessarily for everyone but given that my suburban wife is an enthusiastic convert, it shows there’s a broad appeal, not least if you’re a foodie. If you’ve not been to a show, see when they’re happening in your area. There are still plenty coming up throughout September.