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Countdown To The Royal Highland Show Scotlands Flagship For Farming, Food And Countryside

Its countdown time for Scotlands annual celebration of the best of farming, food and countryside the Royal Highland Show which takes place from June 24-27 and has The Royal Bank of Scotland as its major sponsor.

Anyone who ever doubted that this is one of Scotlands most popular and iconic events, need look no further than last years visitor numbers, a mightily impressive 176,522.

That record attendance places the Highland at the very top of the popularity stakes, living up to its marketing billing as The Greatest Show On Earth.

The task each year for Show Manager David Dunsmuir and his team is to ensure the show maintains its strong emphasis on agricultural and countryside elements, while simultaneously laying on enough extra interest and entertainment to attract a non-specialist audience.

We are now regarded as the UKs main event for agri-business and that is an attraction in itself, he says. We are strengthening the opportunities for business this year by the introduction of a business centre for exhibitors.

Over our four days we are the focal point for the farming and food sectors  and have become a platform for politicians, leading food multiples and other organizations to make major announcements as well as bringing along key people from within the industry.

However, theres more to us than cows and combine harvesters and when we add in to the mix fashion, food, shopping, music, entertainment, action and activity, its easy to see why we have become so popular with the general public.

Apart from anything else we are easy to get to from all parts of the country; we are next to an international airport, a few hundred yards from the motorway network and literally in the heart of Scotland with excellent public transport links. My only advice would beget there early, theres so much to see!

2010 is a special year. Its the anniversary of the 170th show which was first staged in Edinburghs Canongate in 1822 but more significantly its the 50th event to be held at the permanent site at the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston.

The organizers hope to mark the golden anniversary with, among other features, pictorial displays of champion livestock from that era as well as archive photographs and footage from half a century ago.

As last year, there will be an international dimension to proceedings.  In 2009, the Royal Highland was one of the featured events of Homecoming. This year, it will be welcoming delegates from the 21 countries of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth who will be in Scotland for their biennial Conference and Tour as well as hosting meetings of the European and UK Agricultural Show Associations.

Also visiting the show will be cattle breeders attending the World Shorthorn Conference, the Hereford breeds European Conference, the international committee of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from Texas and a large contingent of farmers from Norway.

For those enthusiasts and others who might have difficulty in telling apart one breed from another, the livestock displays and parades at the Royal Highland are the big attraction. Its an opportunity to get up close to around 1000 cattle, 1500 sheep and 2500 horses. The animals come in all shapes and sizes from tiny bantam hens to impressive teams of giant Clydesdales in full harness.

Its a feature of the show that excites all ages but for the younger visitor under sixteens are admitted free in the company of an adult – the Childrens Discovery Centre is a must-see.

Run by the Royal Highland Education Trust, which throughout the year interfaces with Scottish schools promoting farm and countryside, theres loads of hands on activity from making flour to identifying creepie crawlies.

This year the Scottish Government is backing the Centres Cookery Theatre where 1000 children will be taught how to cook a basic recipe using Scottish food. Its all part of a national programme to encourage primary schoolchildren to make the connection between food and farming.

And in another show first, the careers available in the industry will be highlighted in an initiative driven by Show President Sir Garth Morrison.  Discover CareersFrom Farm To Fork is aimed at encouraging young adults of 16-25 years old to see the merits of a career in the Scottish agricultural, food and drink and allied industry sectors.

In the run-up to the show, teams of young people have been researching the products and skills required for such a career with prizes including work experience in a key company. The show will also have a career pathway involving leading farm, food and drink companies.

But what else is there to seeand hear?  Probably too many to mention but for a start how about some tasting and sampling in the Food and Drink Hall where theres a rolling daily programme of demonstrations by some of the countrys leading chefs in the Scotland Food & Drink Cookery Theatre.

If music be the food of love then listen out for diverse sounds around the showground including traditional pipes and drums, a German oompah band and rhythms from the Caribbean and West Africa. The programme features Celtic Connections Festival band Blue Flint, youngsters from the Edinburgh Gang Show and Drumatik, a community-based drumming group from Fife which includes people with learning difficulties. There will be music until close of play at 8pm on the first three days of the show.

In the Countryside Area, you can watch the handling skills of the gundog trainers as their spaniels and Labradors flush and retrieve. There are also demonstrations of traditional rural crafts including fly tying, wood turning and saddle-making.

Green credentials are important these days. The Renewable Energy Pavilion is moving to a new, enlarged site and in line with Government strategy to explore and exploit alternative sources of energy, will be featuring wind power, solar power, biomass and the like, with advice for business users and general consumers.

If its action and activity you are after, how about a visit to the Forestry Arena where skills with chainsaw and axe and the ability to shin up a 100 feet pole in a matter of seconds will keep you enthralledor take in a performance by Clan BMX with their thrilling stunt riding which features on the continuity breaks on BBC television or marvel at the equestrian skills of some of Britains top show-jumpers in competitions to Grand Prix standard.

There are loads of other attractions and all contained within designated areas including Agri-Trade Area with all the leading manufacturers and service providers, Equestrian Village, Handcrafts Pavilion, Honey Marquee, Motor Zone and Shopping Arcades.

Those with only a little knowledge of what goes on in the countryside will be able to find out more about one of Scotland most important industries, says David Dunsmuir. We also want to cater, of course, for our expert farming and food audience but with all the extras thrown in on the fun and entertainment side, we can guarantee a great day out for people of all backgrounds and all ages.

Tickets can be bought at the gate 22 with concessions at 17 available for senior citizens and students. There are “early bird” discounts available at 20 and 15 (see website).  Car parking is 5 per day.

All children under 16 accompanied by an adult go FREE.

Opening times: Thursday 07.00- 20.00 Friday and Saturday 08.00-20.00 and Sunday 08.00 – 18.30.

* Media enquiries  on the Royal Highland Show to Ross Muir or Judith OLeary at OLeary RM Public Relations, The Coach House, Comely Park House, New Row, Dunfermline KY12 7EF
* Email: or Tel: 07971 041853 or 01383 432608
* Show website:

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