If you’ve never been to, or taken your children to an agricultural show, you’re missing out. They can be a great day out for all ages, and I think they’re an event that everyone should experience at least once.
We’ve been to a lot over the years. As a child my mum took us to the Royal Agricultural Show a couple of times, and I’m sure we’d been to various other smaller events. As well as going to farm museums or shire horse centres.
Being married to a farmer, and then having a child, you can’t really not visit them. We’ve been to several local shows where it’s alway good to see people you know. And the OH gets to
‘network’ talk tractors and other machinery with dealers he knows who often get him tickets.
It’s not always about the big famous shows – in fact over the years these have been less about agricultural shows, and more about offering what former city dwellers who now live in the countryside want. The shopping side, in particular luxury cars, has grown.
As for the Countryfile Show – after only 4 years, they seemed to have totally got rid of the proper farming sections, and there wasn’t really much farm machinery to show children at all. We decided we wouldn’t bother going after that because it wasn’t representative of what the countryside is about. Surely educating non farming visitors about the source of food and how farming works needs to be part of a show like that.
What is an agricultural show (farm show)?
An agricultural show can cover so much. They tend to be over 3 days, with the basis of them being the opportunity for farmers to bring along their show animals to take into the ring, show them off and get prizes. They’re also an opportunity to get your herd name out there, and create buzz around your herds if they’re prize-winning.
You can usually walk around the animal sheds where they’re being prepared for the show, and will see all different breeds of farm animals. There are often petting farm tents too, where children can get to meet some animals close up.
There’s often a horse show, sometimes just jumping, but often you get to see mounted games which is like party games on horseback at speed. Some of N’s cousins have been big on mounted games with several of them going to the Horse of the Year show to compete with their teams in the past.
Other farming crafts and skills are on show. Whether that’s countryside crafts like wood turning, basket weaving, chopping logs and carving wood or other crafts. Or you may see shepherding geese and sheep, falconry or gundog displays.
There’s usually farm machinery for children to climb on and find out about, and they may include vintage tractor displays.
You can’t forget a country crafts tent and the food tent. There’s usually really good quality, fairly local foods on sample and for sale with foodies selling their wares.
Activity wise there’s usually plenty to see and do for children. You might have nature activities or outdoor adventure style activities.
So why should you visit a farm show?
1. They’re educational. We should all know more about where our food comes from, and a farming show is great to understand that and learn more.
2. They’re fun. Who doesn’t want to sit on a huge tractor, or look at cute animals, or see working displays.
3. There’s usually great food to try (and drink), and it’s great to support local producers
4. You can take your dog with you. You might even be able to enter them in a dog show if it’s a small local event.
5. They support the farming industry which often get treated appallingly and looked down on. Without farmers, there would be very little food available.
6. Find out more about conservation in the countryside. Farmers do a lot about conservation of the land and this is increasing.
7. They show agriculture from the other side, not just from the biased anti farming view that is so frequently in the media nowadays.
8. You might find a new hobby. Whether it’s crafts, or working with animals, you might get inspired to add something new to your life.
9. They’re a tradition with many having run for years, they’re part of the farming calendar.
10. They’re for all the family. Toddlers and teens, right through to the elderly. There’s something for everyone.
11. You’re getting outdoors, whatever the weather. Most shows continue even in the rain. They’re a great way to get away from the screens for the day. When we visited the Royal Bath & West Show, it was a bit wet, but it meant it wasn’t so busy.
12. They’re not just about farming/agriculture. There’s usually associated crafts, shops, food, gardening, countryside safety and local suppliers to watch or speak to.
If I’ve convinced you and you want to visit an agricultural show this year, here’s some of the UK farming shows and dates. (You can even download the Agshow app which covers all the shows).
Read about our days out at agricultural shows and countryside events.
- Countryfile Llive, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
- Brailes Country Show, Warwickshire
- Tractor Ted Farm Show, Bowood House
- Moreton Show, Gloucestershire
Have you visited agricultural shows? Which have been your favourite?