A Taste of the Good Life at Devon County Show

PUBLISHED: 13:36 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 15:07 20 February 2013

The animals come top of the list of attractions

The animals come top of the list of attractions

The big celebration of Devon country living in May - Devon County Show - promises a veritable treasure chest packed with rural delights and is sure to entertain and interest visitors whatever their background

The variety, charm, landscape and wholesome values, which so encapsulate everything that is good about Devon, is at the very heart of this year's County Show. Here visitors are promised a real taste of the good life, with an abundance of appetising produce from the rolling hills, fertile red soils, heather-covered moors and the seas around our coastline. It is also a huge celebration of rural living and its essential principles, many of which are enjoyed by those living in the county's flourishing towns and cities.

As the desire for food provenance, high standards of animal husbandry and eco-living continues to grow, so too do such pursuits as keeping chickens in the back garden, growing vegetables to feed the family and domestic crafts such as needlework and making preserves.

"Our Show is a fantastic enabler," said Show Secretary Ollie Allen. "Whatever your countryside and rural interests, we have experts on hand ready to share their knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for life in Devon. And if people just want to relax and enjoy a great day out, we have a programme of activities guaranteed to entertain from morning till dusk."

Most popular attraction

According to the Show's market research, the most popular attraction is the animals; visitors rate the cattle particularly highly and are in for a special treat this year with a celebration of adorable-looking Jersey cows. The World Jersey Cattle Bureau is staging a World Pre-Congress Show and delegates from around the world will be visiting on the Friday of the Show, all keen to see the best examples of the breed; afterwards they visit Jersey for the World Congress.

Edward Morgan, Chairman of the UK Jersey Cattle Society, said: "Jerseys are renowned for the quality of their milk, nowhere better than in Devon with its cream teas and ice-cream, and they are recognised by the wider public as particularly attractive animals. Yet the benefits of the breed are much greater. They are the most efficient breed at converting feed into milk, and are exceptionally healthy and adaptable cattle, thriving in environments as diverse as New Zealand to South Africa to Denmark. The breed is growing rapidly in the USA as well as the UK, and farmers in Eastern Europe are actively seeking to purchase Jerseys."

In addition to the Jerseys there are more than 20 breeds of cattle, including two breeds native to the county - the Ruby Red, recognised by its dark-red, almost purple colouring, and the South Devon, a sandy-coloured cow sometimes mistaken for a Limousin. One of the highlights of the Show is the magnificent 'Grand Parade of Livestock' led by the Supreme Inter Breed Beef and Dairy Champions.

Something to tempt and excite

Food and drink follows a close second in the visitors' poll and, once again, there is so much to tempt and excite. The Food and Drink Exhibition is bursting with more than 50 Westcountry producers as well as cookery demonstrations, cheese making and the traditional skills of butter and junket making. Succulent pork and beef, fresh fruit and vegetables, crab, pungent cheeses and sparkling ciders are among the edible stars. New this year is a food crèche for food purchases, run by RABI (the national farming charity, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution).

Chief Steward of the Food and Drink feature, David Scoble, said: "We are fully subscribed with an exciting new concept of six small producers sharing space on a number of stands and the South Devon & Dartmoor Producers' Group is making a welcome return - giving the pavilion a true taste of Devon food."

Home economist Celia Hyland is responsible for organising the Exhibition's packed programme of cookery demonstrations: "In this Year of Food and Farming we're developing our passion for cooking with local, traceable and good-quality food," said Celia. "The campaign aims to reconnect youngsters with the land and tells the story of field to plate."

he campaign is also reflected in the magnificent Flower and Garden marquee - known as Devon's 'Little Chelsea' - where Chief Steward Gordon Newton MBE is looking forward to welcoming green-fingered pupils and students from local schools and Bicton College.

New this year

New this year is a Gardening Roadshow run by experts Martin Fish and Geoff Stebbings, who look forward to helping as many people as possible solve their gardening dilemmas. They will be giving practical talks and demonstrations on a range of gardening subjects through the day.

Daredevil stunts

When it comes to entertainment in the Princesshay Ring, there's the world-class motorcycle stunt team, the Bolddogs Lings. They use the largest truck and landing ramp in the world, enabling their professional riders to jump gaps of more than 80 feet across and 35 feet high in the air (25m and 11m), giving them sufficient time to perform daredevil stunts.

A cornucopia of skills

For entertainment of a different kind, take a look at the cornucopia of wonderful handiwork which pays a glorious tribute to today's craftspeople and the traditional skills they practise with such artistic flair and expertise. Admire intricate lace, colourful patchwork quilts and the work of weavers, spinners and dyers, and feel the enthusiasm and dedication of the people who ensure that time-honoured skills are enjoyed and flourish as much as ever.

Members of the Devon Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers will be showing how Devon fleece can be turned into spun wool ready to be made into a garment. Fibres used include sheep and alpaca wool, silk, soya and even bamboo, while the dyes are made from natural ingredients including nettles and onions (producing a vibrant yellow colour).

Show Steward Naomi Keate will also be on hand to enthuse visitors with her colourful quilts. A selection of quilts is on display and there are demonstrations of patchwork and quilting using cotton, wool, silk and felt. She said: "I want to show what absolute beginners through to experienced needle-workers can produce. And I hope to inspire many more people to try this satisfying craft."

Fact file

Devon County Show

May 15, 16 and 17

Westpoint near Exeter


(01392 353753

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