The Royal Cornwall Show is primarily an agricultural show, for which it has an excellent reputation
A Top County Show
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
A Top County Show
Paul White highlights some of the main attractions at this year's Royal Cornwall Show
Here's a tip for anyone visiting the Royal Cornwall Show (RCS) from 4-6 June... take your time! This is a big show, in all senses of the word - big in heart, deservedly big in reputation and big in size. You can get round the show in one day and see everything on offer. Or you can take a more relaxed approach, spending time at every stop, making sure you delve into every corner and watch every demonstration, which will take a good couple of days, so make sure you leave enough time.
To work out your itinerary, study the various programmes well in advance because there is a lot going on in the vast array of rings, arenas and marquees that make up this annual three-day celebration of everything Cornish. There's so much to grab your interest and occupy your time: the Foot Anstey Hancock Caffin Countryside Area; the flower tent; main ring or rare-breeds section; the dog show; motor fair or food and farming pavilion; the steam fair; goats; live music; the Cornwall Council stage; Festival of Dance stage; or machinery, there is something for everyone.
There is a huge range of exhibitions, demonstrations and activities taking place in the Countryside Area. This increasingly popular part of the showground includes a lake that is a permanent feature and full of wildlife all year round. The lake is the venue for many activities during the show. Watch expert fly-fishers at work, see gun-dogs in action and learn how the lake supports a population of tiny wildlife with the pond-dipping team. Around the Countryside Area there are all sorts of activities from ferret racing to Cornish wrestling, both of which are regular favourites and provide great entertainment and interest.
There will be demonstrations and talks by Cornwall muzzle loaders, who collect, shoot and renovate old rifles and shotguns. Newquay Zoo and the Blue Reef Aquarium bring along a mini-zoo that allows visitors to get close to the animals. They are also keen to talk about and explain the fantastic work carried out in conservation. The range of subjects covered include how to train a horse, how to care for otters and even how to row the Atlantic.
A must-see over the weekend is the flower show. The show organisers try hard each year to put on an event of national significance and this year they have included a riot of colour and variety in the displays. Section Chairman Kenneth Willcock is always on the lookout for something new. A chilly start to the season had him predicting a different look this year and we could see late-blooming camellias and rhododendrons, which are usually more or less over by early June.
Some notable newcomers will add new depth and range to the show: Chris Bonanni from Dorset, who specialises in hostas, Chrysanthemums Direct from Crawley in Sussex, and Robert Evans from Glamorgan who specialises in gladioli. There will also be a series of talks and demonstrations and a lively range of competitive classes for young and not-so-young enthusiasts.
There are around 950 trade stands around the showground. Within that total is the motor fair - one of the sectors that has been particularly badly hit by the credit crunch. Organisers wondered whether that would be reflected in show bookings but the motor fair and machinery section has proved as buoyant as ever.
The RCS always features a top-class dog show, a steam fair and an equine section with show jumping and inter-hunt relay. Small animal sections include poultry, rabbits, cage birds and bees. Goats are always a popular draw, as are rare breeds. This year will be especially interesting, with the arrival of two White Park cattle, which trace their ancestry back more than 2,000 years (see Cornwall Life's May issue, page 34, for the full article). Music lovers can get their fix with various music on the stages and in the main ring.
The Royal Cornwall Show is primarily, and most importantly, an agricultural show. That is why it was created over 216 years ago and that is what it will always remain. It is said by many to be one of the finest agricultural shows in the country and this year has more than 500 classes.
The Food and Farming Pavilion, organised by the Cornwall branch of the Women's Farming Union, is one of the most popular venues on the site, offering a wealth of local produce, taster sessions and demonstrations, with approximately 60 exhibitors.
This year, the return of two favourite acts from recent years will be sure to generate a huge crowd around the ring - the Kangaroo Kid, Australian Mat Coulter, is well known for his spectacular quad-bike jumps. He will take on almost anything - buses, cars and even 4x4s. "I have performed at The Royal Cornwall Show a few times and I am excited about returning and seeing my fans from Cornwall. The county is very special to me as it was where I launched my career," Mat says.
Another unmissable spectacle is Dave 'The Bullet' Smith, a human cannonball whose gravity-defying act is pure entertainment. During the few seconds in which he hurtles from the barrel of the cannon towards the distant net, he performs a somersault and has to adjust his body position to ensure he is right on target. The RCS 2007 was the first time his 35ft monster cannon had been seen anywhere in Europe, and now it's coming back again. Whatever your interests, the RCS is a great day out for all the family, and this year's event promises to be a special weekend.