2017 Royal Cheshire County Show - photo special

Sheep judging

Sheep judging - Credit: Archant

Organisers, exhibitors and visitors couldn’t have wished for better weather at this year’s Royal Cheshire County Show. Across the two day agricultural event, temperatures reached highs of 26c. The great weather brought with it fabulous crowds, with around 80,000 people entering the 300-acre showground at Tabley, near Knutsford.

Lesley Mitton during the Parade of Hounds in the main ring

Lesley Mitton during the Parade of Hounds in the main ring - Credit: Archant

A revised layout for this year meant there was an increased area of showground, giving visitors even more to see, do and shop, whether that be in the competition classes or at the trade stands.

A popular agricultural section for this year seemed to be the sheep classes, where we met pupils from Bebington High School Farm, many of who were competing for the first time. Peter Fearon, a teacher who runs the school farm, spoke about how important events such as the Royal Cheshire County Show are for his students.

‘A lot of the pupils competing today aren’t from a rural community, so it’s really important for them to come here as they get a taste of the countryside life. We are also camping across the two days, so they are having a real country experience.’

The farm, which was established in 2013, is operated on-site at the school and also at nearby Claremont Farm. It offers level 2 and level 3 provisions in animal care and animal management, as well as a range of vocational courses, extra-curricular activities and trips. It seems all of their hard work is paying off, and we watched as three pupils, Connor Taylor, 11, Jack Price, 12, and Fleur Taylor, 11, were all awarded rosettes in the young handler category with their pedigree Hampshire Downs.

Edith and Rex

Edith and Rex - Credit: Archant

Another young face going home with a rosette was Lydia Hine, 11, who was competing alongside her grandfather, Geoff Biddulph, with their Pexhill Suffolk sheep. The duo from Gawsworth, near Macclesfield, were awarded second place. ‘I’ve been competing here since it started; it is a really special event. To be able to win a rosette at your local show is great feeling,’ said Geoff.

Of course there were many other competition classes taking place over the two days, with cattle, pigs and dairy goats all competing to be in with a chance of winning a rosette, as well as hundreds of light and heavy horses, rare breeds of livestock, poultry, rabbits and dogs. Those who were lucky enough to gain first place were celebrated in the grand parade of champions, taking place in the main ring, which this year was sponsored by principal partner, Delamere Dairy.

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The dairy, based in Knutsford, supply an extensive range of speciality goat and cows’ milk based products to retail, wholesale and independent customers across the UK, Europe and beyond. Staff from the business were sampling and selling their goods in the Roberts Bakery Food Hall and Food Live Theatre, alongside many other local food and drink suppliers such as Arley-based Hunters Gin and Andrew’s Fish, Game and Poultry from Warrington Market. As well as visitors enjoying the wealth of delicious treats on offer, many of the products were also contenders for awards. Cheshire is renowned for its cheese and the Royal Cheshire County Show continues to promote its dairy reputation through its cheese section, where there are more than 30 classes.

‘This is still one of the most traditional county shows in the country. What people like is the fact it’s still a table in a field,’ said chief steward of cheese, David Williams, who was preparing for judging. ‘I have been doing it for over 20 years. It’s still very enjoyable but there are always challenges to overcome.’

The Agri Centre, Cook Street Village Green, Countryside Experience Area and Rural Life Area, which included Cheshire WI, NAFAS Flower Marquee, Schools Out, NFU Discovery Barn, also had many exciting things to keep the whole family busy.

Readers will be aware that Cheshire Life is one of the regular sponsors of the Royal Cheshire County Show. Editor Louise Allen-Taylor was honoured to be this year’s patroness, and along with the president for 2017, The Bishop of Stockport, Right Reverend Libby Lane, they were joined by Cheshire dignitaries, lords and ladies in the members’ enclosure – which had a prime view of the main ring.

Thousands of visitors gathered to watch entertainment in the Delamere Dairy main ring across the two days, which included everything from pony club games and performances from the Scots Guard Association Pipe Band, to sheep dog trials and new for this year, the Four Seasons of Farming – which featured big machinery on parade.

‘Farming has become an abstract process that few really understand and associate with the food on their plates,’ said show chairman, Tony Garnett, of the new attraction. ‘We wanted to help bridge this gap and at the same time ignite an interest in youngsters who could be our farmers of the future.’

It’s this passion to constantly strive forward to the future that makes the Royal Cheshire County Show an exciting event to attend. As well as remaining very traditional in many aspects, the Cheshire Agricultural Society and its committee are also dedicated to the future of the agriculture community in Cheshire – and that’s something we can all be very proud of.


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