What a busy August it has been, my diary has been full of agricultural shows, and at home we’ve been madly trying to get grass in during brief dry spells. This summer weather has certainly been testing for farmers and anyone who has succeeded in making hay should be given a medal.
The show season is well underway. This year the Lake District National Park is sponsoring 30 agricultural shows and events, this includes shows, sheep dog trials, shepherds meets, livestock sales and young handlers events. This is great for us as we get out and about, talking to farmers and the public.
Why do we sponsor these events? Agricultural events are very important to the cultural heritage of the Lake District, they have been going on for hundreds of years. They are an opportunity for farmers to show livestock ready for the sales in autumn, but they are also important dates on the social calendar. Shows are a great chance to bridge farming and the wider community, showcasing livestock and produce. We sponsor classes that are linked to World Heritage, for example traditional hill sheep breeds, sheep dog trials or shepherds crook class. Small agricultural shows can struggle to keep going without financial support, so I hope our contribution makes a difference.
The great thing about shows is the turnout despite the weather. Looking back to Cartmel Show in early August a dark cloud loomed over the show field all day, drenching us with sideways rain for most of the morning, reversing the hard work farmers had undertaken dressing livestock to look their best on the day. Everyone donned their waterproofs as the show would not be stopped, and smiling faces prevailed through the mud. I watched from the side of the sheep pens at the well-oiled machine, shepherds bringing out their sheep to be judged, many Herdwicks colored red in a tradition that dates back centuries.
In contrast the Lake District Sheep Dog Trails at Ings was a glorious day with barely a cloud in the sky. This event pulled in lots of public tensely watching shepherd and dog dance across the course. ‘Come-by, away, lie down’ was the language of the day, commands that see the sheep dogs respond to their owner attempting, and often succeeding to conquer obstacles and herd sheep into a pen.
There is plenty still going on in the coming weeks, into autumn. For dates of upcoming shows you can visit: Farming : Lake District National Park
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