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Record-breaking livestock entries for Berkshire Show

Entries have closed for this year’s Royal County of Berkshire Show on 20 and 21 September with organisers delighted by numbers of livestock, including a record turn-out of goats and pigs.


2014 is a record year for goats

Entries have closed for this year’s Royal County of Berkshire Show on 20 and 21 September with organisers delighted by numbers of livestock, including a record turn-out of goats and pigs.

Over 229 pigs have been entered, which is around 90 more than last year. Meanwhile, new classes for pygmy goats have boosted entries to 288 – 50 ahead of 2013, which in itself hit new highs, with more goats competing at Berkshire than any other county show that year.

Cattle, sheep, camelids, poultry and equine entries are all strong, with exhibitors from all corners of the country signed up to new classes for amateur showjumpers, and a national championship for Highland and Dexter cattle. Sheep – which were at record levels last year – have risen again this year to over one thousand.

The interim general manager at the Newbury Showground, Simon Frere-Cook, is full of enthusiasm: “I’ve worked at various showgrounds across the country, but I’ve been hugely impressed with the dedication of the team – and wider band of volunteers – at Newbury. They are determined to deliver the best possible show year-on-year, and the latest figures speak volumes about their success. Such is the nationwide reputation of the Berkshire Show that exhibitors are prepared to travel from across the country to end their season on a high.”

Amongst the livestock owners going for gold are Lambourn pig farmer, Christina Dunlop. Her two pigs, Rosie and Piglet, will be expertly handled by Christina, as well as her young sons, Tom, 8, and William, 6, who made his show debut aged 2.5. Piglet, who has earned a reputation for her mischievous nature, will be hoping for more than just rosettes – she will also be looking for love amongst the pedigree boars.

Outside the livestock sheds, 600 shopping stands have been signed up, creating one of the largest and most diverse retail experiences in the region. It includes top-end crafts, a flower tent and a food fayre, boasting many specialist and local delicacies. There has been a particular rise in independent exhibitors, including a healthy mix of established brands and start-ups. Arleen Wild, from Cane End in the Chilterns, won last year’s award for the best craft exhibitor. She is returning with canvases of her local wild flowers, incorporating painting and stitching, as well as some new offerings for smaller budgets.

“Shoppers are increasingly looking for something different, and the not-on-the-high street feel of the show in full swing really draws the crowds,” says Simon. “It’s amazing the number of people who get their Christmas shopping underway in September!”

Today’s news on entries comes as the marathon process of marking out gets underway at the Newbury Showground. A dedicated team of volunteers has begun painstakingly pegging out the 600 stands within the 177-acre ‘tented village’. Meanwhile, advance tickets continue to sell well, and are around 25 per cent higher than this time last year, with many people taking advantage of the print-at-home option.

Simon adds: “Farming has faced many challenges in recent years, not least the recent TB outbreak, but our buoyant entry numbers suggest that agricultural businesses may be starting to feel more positive about the future.”

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