A BRIGHT, breezy and – most importantly – dry day heralded a more buoyant Cunningsburgh Show than had been seen for the past couple of years last Wednesday.
There was a virtual washout in 2006, followed by the absence of livestock last year due to restrictions imposed by the foot and mouth crisis, but the show was back on track with one of its highest ever entries and a regular flow of hundreds of visitors throughout the day.
Last week saw brisk traffic around the stands offering freshly prepared local produce including bread, cakes and jams, while the climate was just about warm enough to ensure rapid trade at the ice-cream van. Among the attractions was the ever-popular Shetland Neuk, highlighting traditional craft skills, and live traditional music from young local musicians. NorthLink’s new livestock transportation ramps were on show, as were state-of-the-art new tractor models. Such was the demand for space that show organisers had to turn away others who wished to have a stall because of a lack of capacity.
A brand new car park to the south of the main entrance was opened for the first time, with a digger only completing work at 6.30am ahead of the show opening later that morning. It is the biggest agricultural show in the calendar and the only one which is open to the whole of Shetland, an isles-wide affair which even saw Voe Show president Helena Johnson helping out in the kitchen to serve lunches to the volunteers.
Show president Kathleen Sinclair, whose four-and-a-half-month old limousine stot calf was beef champion, said she was very pleased at more than 2,900 entries for the 64th outing of the show (“pretty near a new record”), with exhibitors drawn from the length and breadth of Shetland.
Among the other winners was Croft Kerral, the overall champion in the horse and pony category, owned by Leslie Cafferky – who said she was “just so pleased” at winning – and presented by Claire Williamson, 26, of Stromfirth, who has been coming to the show every year since she was a baby.
Judge Bruce Wilcocks, from Hillswick, said there had been a good number of entries and that Croft Kerral was a “very fine” horse, adding that it was “really nice to see some young Shetland-bred animals coming up”.
Also emerging triumphant in the livestock competitions was Betsy, a Holstein/Fresian cross from GB & AM Anderson, from Weisdale.
Ms Sinclair said she was “relieved that the weather has been kind to us” and paid tribute to the work of around 200 volunteers – including judges, stewards, car park attendants and caterers – without whom the show would never have happened. “Our committee turned out night after night to get things set up,” she said.
NFU Shetland branch president Hazel MacKenzie said it was great to see so many folk milling around and that there was nothing like a good show to lift the spirits of the agricultural community. “A good show day makes you feel more positive,” she said.
Show joint secretary Willie Ross said he was delighted to see the attendance recovering after being significantly affected in 2006 and 2007. The 26-strong committee is hopeful that a good show this year will boost the coffers to allow them to make further improvements to the fields for next year.
“We own a lot of ground here but it’s pretty rough,” Mr Ross said. “We’re improving it all the time but there’s a lot of work to do yet. It all takes money and we’re grateful to the community councils for their contribution.”