A look ahead to the 2015 Garstang Show
- Credit: Archant
This is a landmark year for one of Lancashire’s best loved show, writes Jeremy Hunt
If any event has stood the test of our changing times it’s the local agricultural show - and none more so than the Garstang and District Agricultural and Horticultural Society which this year celebrates its 200th anniversary – a landmark occasion that will highlight the very best of rural life in this deeply traditional farming community.
This thriving one-day summer show traces its origins back to a meeting at Kirkland Hall near Garstang in 1809 by Alexander Butler, the High Sheriff of Lancashire. The purpose of the meeting was to ‘take into consideration the propriety and utility of forming an agricultural society as useful and beneficial to the neighbourhood’ and although it was a few years later before the first show was held, it gives Garstang Show the honour of being one of the first of its kind to be staged in the UK.
This current president of the show society is Francis Fitzherbert-Brockholes of Claughton Hall, Claughton-on-Brock, whose family have been involved since its inception. In fact, William Fitzherbert-Brockholes was the second society chairman in 1811.
Garstang Show has earned a nationwide reputation for the high quality of cattle and sheep that fill its livestock classes on the first Saturday of August every year. But while visitors to this year’s event on August 1st will see many of the region’s best cattle, sheep and horses compete for awards, exhibitors of 200 years ago were competing for premiums - cash prizes that were intended to help farmers further their improvements as breeders of superior stock or growers of healthy and high-yielding crops.
‘The first shows offered premiums for crops as well as stock. Judges would visit the farms that had entered their stock and their crops in the appropriate categories and those that were considered good enough would be awarded a premium.
‘In essence, the show society was more to do with recognising excellence among local farmers than providing a social event,’ said Garstang Show secretary Melissa Wood.
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This year’s show will pull out all the stops to celebrate the farming and countryside traditions that remain at the heart of this rural community.
The permanent show field, just outside the town with its famous backdrop of the sweeping landscape of the Bleasdale Fells, will host a record-breaking entry of dairy and beef cattle and over 260 sheep.
Horses have always played a major part at Garstang Show and as well as its famous light horse section with class after class of riding and in-hand competitions, the show maintains its long-standing support for heavy horses and always attracts a strong turnout of ‘gentle giants’ from leading Shire Horse breeders.
Beyond the livestock rings and parades this year’s show will include a family entertainment ring with a day-long programme including a fashion show, freestyle stunt display by Jamie Squibb while Cbeebies presenter Katy Ashworth will be heading-up the many attractions and events organised for children.
‘For a show to have run for 200 years is a great achievement so we hope this year will be a tribute to all those who have worked so hard in the past to make it such a success,’ said Melissa . w