The damp weather didn’t deter over 23,000 visitors from descending on Bywell yesterday for the annual Northumberland County Show. The morning drizzle proved to be a big bonus for traders and exhibitors with retailers reporting record takings in the Indoor Shopping marquee, Taste of Northumberland Food Hall and Network Artists Gallery. The livestock and shearing marquees were equally busy as hordes of onlookers enjoyed the spectacle of over 350 cattle, 470 sheep, 130 alpacas, 600 horses and thousands of dogs, pigs, goats, rabbits and Guinea pigs being closely evaluated by the judges in each section.
At the end of the day, the top prize – The J S Hubbuck Champion of Champions – went to a magnificent Limousin cow called Glittered, with her calf at foot. Owned by the Messrs Jenkinson from Clifton Moor, Penrith, the judges commented, “It was a very difficult decision, but this beast is an outstanding example of the breed, with exceptional character and quality. Her calf also shows huge potential!” Sybil and George MacPherson, who featured in the BBC series, This Farming Life, had travelled from Dalmally to undertake the judging. Sybil said, “It’s been a huge honour to judge such fantastic animals. We have had an amazing day.”
The Reserve Champion of Champion was a two-year-old Ayrshire called ‘Marleycote Sea Lily 23rd’ owned by Richard Baynes of Slaley, near Hexham. It was only her second show, but she’s on her way to the Great Yorkshire Show in a few weeks to compete again in their Dairy Section.
Neil Slack made a reappearance in the Grand Parade again, with his fine home bred Limousin-cross ‘Rio’, who at only sixteen months old, already has a string of trophies, including Champion Calf at Smithfield at Christmas, and Reserve Champion Heifer at Beef Expo.
Also in the line-up was a beautiful heavy horse, Mel Miss Kerrin, all the way from the Isle of Bute in Scotland. Owner John McMillan and his family had brought a team of horses to compete in the Heavy Horse Section and told us, “We’ve been coming for three years now and always enjoy this lovely show.”
The Champion Sheep, which had gained its place in the Grand Parade after winning the Any Other Continental and Interbreed Championships was a superb Beltex called Corrawally, owned by Henry Jewitt, of Romaldkirk in Barnard Castle. His team of nine had also picked up the Reserve rosette in the same section.
In the Equine rings the Light Horse Championship was won by young Martha Jobling-Purser from Morpeth, riding Valentine Dignity, with the Reserve Champion being Emily Davidson from nearby Prudhoe riding Marty. The judge, Heather McDonald, had taken a break from running the Hunt Bar and overseeing the Pony Club Games, and was very impressed by the standard of entries.
For the younger visitors it was Big Pete the Monster Truck who stole the show. Weighing in at 7.5 tons it is one of Europe’s largest monster trucks and teamed with The Grim Reaper their 15ft jumps, crushing a dozen cars through the day, generated whoops and cheers from the crowds.
Celebrating the first ever Northumberland Day on Sunday 28th May, the show’s marquees were festooned in red and yellow flags and bunting. Various sections chose the theme to showcase the county’s finest talents; from handicrafts, decorated eggs to an art competition for children called ‘Visions of Roman Northumbria’. Children gathered from across the county to see which artwork had earned a rosette from artist and judge Karen McDougall. Whitley Chapel School near Hexham and Little Kingdom Childminding from Consett scooped the ‘Best in Show’ awards.
Prizes were announced by the show’s resident Roman Cavalry officers who presented a fun re-enactment routine with a fine armoured horse, Bludstepper, and high speed Pony Club Games display in the main arena. Their Roman camp was a popular attraction for families, and their expert knowledge was both entertaining and educational.
There was more ‘edu-tainment’ around the show field, with the hilarious ‘Sheep Show’ supported by Border Counties Insurance, starring Nobby the Norfolk Horn and other dancing sheep. The Hay & Kilner Birds of Prey display was stunning, with eagles and vultures free flying through the trees. One young bald eagle made a bid for freedom, and handler Ben Potter recovered his escapee at the edge of the show field after a hot pursuit.
James Wardle, Chairman, concluded, “It’s always a great day out, whatever the weather. We’ve got the best display of livestock, entertainment, food and drink in the north east, all together in one place. Our traffic control and security management went very smoothly and from all the feedback we have had, it has been one of the most enjoyable and successful shows yet. I’d like to thank all of the hard working volunteers, section leaders and their stewards who make it happen!”