Star Attractions at the Devon County Show
PUBLISHED: 14:10 03 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:21 20 February 2013
Not only is this the year of HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, it also marks the return of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the Devon County Show.
The fabulous Mounties are the headline attraction at the County Show being held on May 17-19 at Westpoint, Exeter. They will performtheir popular Musical Ride twice a day inthe Mole Valley Farmers Main Arena andwill be on hand to meet visitors at theirstables between performances.
This is a real coup, says Show Secretary Mrs Ollie Allen. Devon is the only place the Mounties will visit in the UK, apart from taking part in HM The Queens Diamond Jubilee Pageant at the Windsor Horse Show the previous weekend. With their red serge uniforms, flat-brimmed Stetsons and beautiful black Hanoverian horses, the Mounties are iconic. What makes their visit so extra special is that they are happy to meet and talk to Show visitors.
The Mounties made their last appearance in Devon 12 years ago. Among the troop then and returning this year are Officer-in-Charge of the Musical Ride, Superintendent Marty Chesser, and Sgt Major Riding Master, Bill Stewart. Were all really looking forward to coming back to Devon, says Marty Chesser. The hospitality is just so amazing we feel we are treated like royalty!
The Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 riders and horses, plus the member in charge. The performance consists of the execution of a variety of intricate figures and cavalry drill choreographed to music. This demands utmost control, timing and coordination, adds Marty. These movements are formed by individual horses and riders, in twos, fours and eights at the trot and at the canter. Months of training, practice and many miles around the riding school make horse and rider one. Bill Stewart returns with another veteran of the County Show, his trusty steed Hector who, at 22, is the oldest horse in the Mounties.
Of course, theres a lot more at the County Show than arena entertainment. Its earned its reputation as the largest and most varied annual event in the county through its celebration of the Devon countryside and all that it represents. Farming is at its heart and not only provides a tremendous opportunity for farmers and the agricultural industry to get together and socialise, but it also offers people a chance to see the very best livestock in the region.
Were putting on a block-buster of a County Show this year, says Ollie. There are literally thousands of wonderful animals to see more than 7,000 of all shapes and sizes, and that is not including the content of the beehives!
The livestock are a hugely popular draw for visitors who love to walk through the cattle lines, around the sheep, pig, alpaca and goat pens, and seethese magnificent animals in their stalls on beds of straw or competing in the ring. A must-watch event is the Grand Parade of Livestock, held on Friday and Saturday afternoons, when Girl Guides carrying breed signs aloft accompany the prize winners and their handlers into the Mole Valley Farmers Main Arena. Adam Henson from BBCs Countryfile is among the farmers making a return visit; and drawing on his experience as a substantial sheep farmer in Gloucestershire and champion for British wool, he will be judging the Rare & Primitive Sheep Breeds class.
Show visitors can enjoy a day celebrating the best that the countryside can offer, including local food and drink throughout the showground and in the fabulous Food & Drink Pavilion. Here visitors can shop for a meal or stock up the larder with a huge range of delicious goods and the knowledge that they are getting tasty produce that is supporting the local economy and benefiting the environment. At one end of the huge pavilion, in the cookery demonstration kitchen, there will be a rolling programme of guest chefs organised by Steward Celia Hyland, who says this years theme is simplicity. Simple food can be healthy, interesting to eat and very enjoyable. In these rather austere times its essential to make good use of food cheap cuts can be just as good as something special.
In the Country Life Area, arena demonstrations will include gundog scurries, heavy horse work, falconry, terrier racing and working dogs as well as the Young Farmers Clubs Tug of War competitions on the Saturday. Chief Steward of the Country Life Area, Andy Gray, says: We want visitors to have a go! They can try the gentle art of fly casting or a clay pigeon shoot as well as a fleet of four-wheel-drive vehicles taking people on an off-road experience.
In addition there is entertainment in six arenas and rings, plenty for keen gardeners and flower arrangers, handicrafters and dog lovers; also there is top class show-jumping, scurry driving, axe racing, marvellous metalwork and shoeing competitions, vintage tractors and steam engines, classic cars and motorbikes, beautiful pigeons, rabbits, guinea pigs and poultry and miles of trade stands selling a huge variety of goods.
Devon County Show is on May 17-19 at Westpoint, Exeter. Up to three children (5-15) are admitted free with each paying adult on Saturday. For more information ring 01392353700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or devoncountyshow.co.uk