A right royal event
- Credit: Archant
In the heart of Somerset, the building of a city the size of Bath has nearly finished.
The 240 acre Bath and West Showground resounds to the noise of hammers, drills and tractors as three miles of shopping stands are built and displays are erected.
Cows are lowing in the cattle sheds while horses and their riders are practising their steps for a chance of qualifying at the Royal International or Horse of the Year Show.
Anticipation fills the air as tens of thousands of people are expected to be welcomed through the gates of the showground near Shepton Mallet from May 29 to June 1 for the greatest show in the region, which is celebrating a special birthday in 2013.
For it’s the 150th Bath and West Show, which started its life in Taunton in 1852 and toured the West only missing the war years.
And one of the most prestigious beef trophies in the country will be presented to the best pair of beef animals on the Thursday of show.
Show manager Alan Lyons’ eyes light up when he talks about the Burke Trophy, formerly a highlight of the Royal Show.
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“It’s like the FA Cup of the Sporting World.
“It is considered a huge triumph to win it and an even greater honour to be invited to judge it,” he says.
“It is presented to the best pair of beef animals – one male and one female – chosen out of all the breed classes at the event.
“It is presented courtesy of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, and three of our committee members, who are often referred to as the ‘Three Wise Men’ of the cattle committee, have been instrumental in bringing the Burke Trophy to the West Country this year.”
It isn’t the only prize available – there’s the art show, Prince of Wales award, agricultural technology award, not forgetting the hundreds of individual livestock and equine classes, beekeeping, floristry and cider to name but a few.
To kick off the celebrations, as with all birthdays, will be a cake – an extra special one at that.
Throughout the showground a hat will be doffed to its Victorian heritage; after all the first was held when Queen Victoria was on the throne.
But on opening day there will be quite a spectacle as a giant Victoria sandwich will be cut at a grand ceremony and shared among visitors; it is hoped the cake measuring several feet wide will prove to be a record breaker.
And that’s not all, a search has been running since April to find a 21st century Victoria and Albert to have a right royal day on May 29.
Throughout the showground heritage will be side-by-side with modern-day from the machinery section and its 19th century ploughs to the Fairground Heritage Trust, which is creating a colourful exhibition including examples of carved roundabout horses from as many artefacts that they can fit into their tent.
Mr Lyons said: “We are one of the oldest agricultural shows in the country and it is a fantastic achievement to be celebrating our 150th.
“Today though we cater for a range of audiences from the farmer looking to showcase his or her treasured livestock to those wanting to know more about farming and where the food on their plate comes from.
“We also provide plenty to do and see from shopping to a funfair and feature the best local and traditional West Country crafts and local produce.“
Among the highlights are Motorbike and Quad Stunt Show – Adrenaline Tour – performing in the Main Ring daily, Ladies Day on May 31, daily cookery demonstrations and an anniversary trail with the chance for visitors to win great prizes.
Tickets are: adults £22. children £7 and family £55 on the gate.
Ladies Day is £30 and includes exclusive access to the Ringside Members Bar and afternoon tea.