Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Fine Show, in the Traditional Sense

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Fine Show, in the Traditional Sense

Article excerpt


ALWINTON Show is over, and the evening of the year has begun. So I always reckoned, as I marked the second Saturday in October in my diary, though it has been some time since I made the short journey to the show ground.

Until last weekend, that is, when I had a new wife and son to introduce to one of the undoubted highlights of the Northumberland countryman''s year. But whatever happened to all those smart old men I used to see, impeccably turned out in tweed jackets or suits, with matching caps? Sadly, I think we know the answer to that. Turning back to the first show catalogue I can find, from 1991, and comparing it with Saturday''s, there has been a noticeable slump in entries across nearly all agricultural, horticultural and domestic classes - though more people than ever are having a go at producing loaves of bread, cheese scones and jars of chutney, so perhaps all is not lost.

Elsewhere, do we no longer have the skills, time or inclination for this sort of thing, or are the incentives simply inadequate? Although prize money has doubled in the last 18 years it is still only pounds 4 for first place in most classes, which is perhaps not enough to set the pulse racing.

Still, we enjoyed what we saw and can only applaud the innovative thinking behind the new (to me) category of "Baking Gone Wrong", providing a welcome fall-back position with its encouraging note "Entries taken on day".

One thing that has not changed is the appealing directness of my fellow Northumbrians, perfectly illustrated by the show secretary commiserating with me in the queue for the chip van because my Border terrier was too fat to be worth entering for the dog show. This came as news to both me and the dog.

Then there was the steady stream of people who approached me to admire my son, snoozing peacefully in his sling on my chest, then addressed me sympathetically as "Grandad". …

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