The Devon County Agricultural Association (DCAA) is putting the finishing touches to the county’s largest annual event, the 122nd Devon County Show, which runs from May 18-20 at Westpoint, Exeter.
Billed as a joyful celebration of farming, food, fun and rural life, the County Show is one of the South West’s most impressive rural shop windows, showcasing hand-reared livestock, the finest food and drink and rural living at its most vibrant all in a fun-packed day.
Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex is the DCAA President and is a keen supporter of British agriculture in general, and agricultural shows in particular. She is Patron of the Association of Shows and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO), which represents agricultural shows across the country.
Show Secretary Ollie Allen said: “Everyone involved in organising the Show has a great passion for Devon life and we are staging an event which revels in the very many unique qualities which make this county such an incredible place to live and work.”
The Show's food and drink pavilion is even bigger this year with more artisan producers, a seating area and a cookery demonstration theatre featuring top chefs including Michael Caines, the holder of two Michelin stars and Elly Wentworth, a finalist in the BBC’s Masterchef: The Professionals.
“We are proud of the big part the County Show has played in the food revolution which has transformed the quality and variety of locally-produced food and drink over the past 25 years or so,” added Ollie.
At the heart of the Show are the stockmen and women who will be bringing thousands of animals to compete for the accolades which recognise exceptional livestock and equine breeding and animal husbandry.
The wonderful display of livestock beauties takes place on Friday and Saturday when the cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and donkeys which have taken coveted top prizes take part in the Grand Parade in the Mole Valley Farmers main arena.
There will be a thrilling programme of entertainment in five arenas around the showground, music from the bandstand and entertainment in the avenues. The UK’s number one monster truck team - Big Pete and The Grim Reaper - will be performing on Friday and Saturday and the Inspire Shows Events & Tours BMX stunt team will encourage visitors to have-a-go.
Top riders will be entering the equestrian competitions, which are open to amateurs and professionals alike. All competitors will be immaculately turned out as they put themselves and their mounts, which will include thoroughbred Arabs through to hardy Dartmoor ponies, to the ultimate test in the show arenas.
In the past few months the county has been coming behind ‘Devon Remembers’, a tribute at the Show to the men and women from the county who lost their lives in the First World War. To date more than 11,000 hand-crafted poppies have been made which will be put together in to a beautiful display in the crafts and gardens pavilion.
“We are bowled over and truly humbled by the tremendous response we have received to our appeal for poppies,” commentated Ollie Allen. “The young, the old and everyone in-between have been crafting poppies and some are dedicated to their lost loved-ones.”
Helping youngsters to find out more about Devon’s important role in farming and food production is central to a lot of the hands-on activities at the Children’s Farm. They will be able to try a variety of activities from getting involved in the milking and juicing apples to making bread and planting seeds. Families and school parties will be able to take part in the Mole Avon ‘Wheelie Wild Wheelbarrow’ Family Trail, which will take them to 14 different locations around the showground.
In amongst all the show arenas and features will be over two miles of trade stands offering a unique ‘High Street' experience featuring everything from wellington boots to woollies, socks to speed boats and cars to hand-picked crafts.
The Show plays a significant role in supporting the county’s agricultural industry and provides a platform for organisations like the National Farmers Union, the Young Farmers and the CLA to highlight and discuss some of the crucial issues affecting the countryside today.