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Sunday, 13 July 2014

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Appleby Show ploughs proud tradition

Around 4,000 people flocked to the Barley Field for the Appleby Agricultural Society Show on Saturday.

A mixture of young and old, visitors weaved their way to the ringside, round the stalls and into the catering tent to sample local produce.

It’s by no means the biggest show Cumbria has to offer but remains one of the firm favourites nonetheless.

Organisers believe the ethos of the event can take a lot of credit for the ongoing popularity

It has a proud reputation for tradition. which the Appleby Agricultural Society committee members are determined to uphold.

Annie Collinson was the show’s secretary for 18 years and this year she’s delighted to be president.

She said: “Our committee members work very hard to promote the show and they do a very good job.

“It’s run as a traditional show, we try hard to keep it that way and there are many people who come because of that.

“It’s been 170 years since people had that first vision, which is to promote good cattle herds and sheep breeding in this area, and it’s carried on.”

The number of entrants for the cattle classes was up on last year and there were a healthy number of hopefuls in the sheep categories.

Meanwhile, the horse and dog events drew in their fair share of appreciative spectators,

The industrial tent also attracted a lot of interest. The judges were kept busy tasting and viewing everything from cucumber gin to the classic victoria sponges, plants, handicrafts and paintings. Annie said: “It’s always been very popular, we’re very pleased with the horticultural classes this year. It’s been a better summer but I’m sure that’s not the only reason.”

Olive Clarke, one of the judges, was particularly impressed with the Ormside WI’s royal wedding street party scene featuring edible treats. She said: “It deserves a special commendation, it was just wonderful.”

One couple from Ellonby, near Penrith, were more eager than most for the results. Keith and Kath Roper had made 72 entries for produce, preserves, wine and horticulture.

They came away with the prize for the most points in the wine and horticulture sections plus the best onions.

In all they took 20 firsts and their entry not to be placed was their potato offerings. “They were a bit weathered,” admitted Keith.

He and his wife have been entering shows for the last 15 years and the key to success, they say, is to make sure you have a steady supply of goods – and start early, with work beginning in February.

Past experience tells the Ropers that, in the fruit and vegetable classes, the judges are looking for the basics. Keith said: “They want them to be clean, uniform and fresh, and they’ve got to look edible.”

Pleased with their haul at Appleby, the Ropers are now looking forward to their last competition of the season, the Allotment Society show at Penrith.

They are happy to confess that there’s one overriding reason for their hobby – the desire to win. Kath said: “Most people have a competitive streak, they don’t all realise they’ve got it though.”

There are fears that the these sorts of competitions will eventually die out as there isn’t enough interest from the younger generations.

But the Appleby Show committee is determined to foster enthusiasm.

Appleby Grammar and the local primary schools are all involved in the event – the children’s arts and crafts sections provided a colourful backdrops for the industrial tent.

The show is a highlight on the young farmers’ groups calendars too, especially as, once the visitors have gone home, they claim the main marque for their dance.

Although the show is always well attended, this year the visitor numbers were undoubtedly boosted by the sunshine.

Despite black clouds on the horizon, the only downpour arrived just as the event was coming to a close.

Vicky Percival, show secretary, said: “It’s been amazing, especially given this week’s weather forecast.

“It’s the weather that can make it. If it’s miserable then people aren’t so keen to trail through the mud but if it’s a nice day then it’s a great place to be.”

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