Yes I know it is officially The Royal County of Berkshire Show but to me and most locals it has always been and always will be The Newbury Show.
The drive past the golden harvested fields around Hermitage to The Newbury Show always marks the start of autumn for me. We weren’t able to go last year so the husband and I were pleased to be able to make a return visit in 2013 – after all it is the biggest, best and busiest show in the county and a great day out. With up to 60,000 visitors streaming through the gates over the course of the weekend, it has to be a good investment for the exhibitors and sponsors, including Strutt & Parker, Newbury Building Society and Charles Lucas Marshall, to name but three whose names were prominently displayed around the showground.
But where to start when there is so much to see? Well, as per, for us it was a coffee while we poured over the programme. Having positioned ourselves in a tiered stand, we were enjoying watching the heavy horses parading (and felt very lucky to be under cover when a brief but heavy drizzle decided to show itself). In previous years we’ve been to the show in heatwaves and downpours, when tractors have had to help pull cars out of the muddy carparks, so despite not having the hot sunny day that had been forecast earlier in the week, a cloudy but mostly dry day suited us very well.
Sitting there was a great chance to people watch: the judges in their bowler hats; the competitors in their tweed caps; the visitors, some in shorts and t-shirts and others wrapped in coats and woolly hats.
We wandered in an out of the stalls in the shopping area (I was looking for a new waterproof dog-walking hat) as we made our way to one of my favourite parts of the show: the Flower Tent. I had to stop and admire the beautiful huge chrysanthemums as I headed towards the competition entries in the various categories to see what had got first, second or third prize, and why.
We enjoyed stepping back in time in the World War Two Village, with the girls in the Digging for Victory garden and the men looking like they had stepped off the set of ‘Dad’s Army’. Also great fun was watching couples as they bravely strutted their ‘strictly’ stuff on the BBC Berkshire music stage.
We sat awhile to watch the Reading Scottish Pipe Band in the main ring before moving on to see the judging of some of the animals: obstinate bulls; determined pigs; magnificent sheep – it’s a shame they can’t all have rosette. (I had to feel a bit sorry for the lovely creatures, with the tempting aroma from the nearby hog roast and sausage sellers ... the shape of things to come. But delicious all the same.)
The Food Tent seemed bigger than ever this year, with many fabulous treats on offer, such as fudge, curry sauce and vodka all within three paces. And how about a pie from Sweeney & Todds? What a great name!
On to the craft tent (where I just love that warm, comforting grassy smell) for an ‘ooh and aah’ at all the amazing things being made and sold by the talented crafters, and to make a couple of purchases to put by as gifts.
We must have covered a few miles and I must have visited every stand selling hats so it was time to return to buy the very first hat I’d tried on hours earlier. (Surely that wasn’t the husband muttering ‘Typical’?)
So goodbye to The Newbury Show for another year (and well done to The Newbury & District Agricultural Society for making it such a fine event). If you’ve never been, put it on the calendar for next year – there really is something there for everyone.