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HEREFORDSHIRE’S biggest one-day agricultural event cocked a snook at Saturday morning’s heavy burst of rain. By the time the sun came out to shine on Kington Show, so had the crowds.

 Lasting only minutes, the torrential downpour was badly timed at the start of a busy schedule. But the show proceeded with gusto, and though wellies were the order of the day, there was a positive mood among the thousands of show-goers at the Penrhos site near Kington.

A half-hourly shuttle provided by Sargeants’ buses brought visitors from town, and as cars poured into fields designated for parking, an army of volunteers laid straw on the muddiest patches. This vantage point afforded a spectacular view of the showground, looking across to Ladylift hill and on towards Hereford, filled with elegant, traditional marquees, a forest of flags and a buzz of activity.

President of the show, Robert Jones, whose father, the late Harold Jones was president 30 years ago, said the show was a great asset to the county. “This is a backdrop of where we live,” he said.

There was an abundance of trade stands and displays, and the horticultural tent was ablaze with flowers, fruit and vegetables. The latter did not disappoint with humongous specimens such as a football-sized onion, a two-foot long runner bean and a cucumber weighing over a stone.

A central theme was of course, the traditional classes of horses, cattle, sheep and dogs, not to mention a collection of amenable ferrets. One of the high points, the grand parade, produced something of a record for Kington.

From the ringside, spectators gasped in admiration at the poised performance by 22-year-old Kate Mills, riding side-saddle on Beryl Gough’s 10-year-old mare, Nolton Hareton, who won the champion horse prize and went on to scoop the show’s supreme champion rosette. Show president Robert Jones, dubbed the ‘Mayor of Huntington’, declared this riding style to be a first for Kington.

“I’ve been coming to Kington Show for over 60 years since I was in the pram, and I don’t ever remember a side-saddle entry,” said Mr Jones. “I am a horse man, and I like a fine hunter with a fine rider, and this is an outstanding horse and rider.” Mr Jones said the horse was bought six years ago in the Leominster sales, and had hunted regularly.

Among those watching the winner, festooned in rosettes and ribbons, gallop round the ring in a magnificent lap of honour, was Mrs Rosamund Banks. She said in many years of attending the show she could not remember anyone riding side-saddle.

Judging the ridden hunters’ section, Major Patrick Darling said he judged Miss Mills and Nolton Hareton, a county-bred horse, to be champion of the horse entries. “We had a high quality of entry this year, but I judged her to be champion in the horse section,” he said, explaining that he learned the art of riding side-saddle himself in France.

“It’s a different orientation, you have to twist your spine, but the saddle gives a perfect balance,” he said.

Normanton 1 Lionel took top honours in the cattle section, a Hereford bull owned by T.D. & W.T. Livesey from Leicestershire.

Arts and crafts attracted large interest among the crowds, and visitors were tempted to try Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s own fresh apple juice, the fruit picked, pressed and bottled just the day before the show. Wye Valley Beekeepers showed honey bees in action, and there was a chance to find out more about Almeley’s Quaker Meeting House. One of the oldest in the country, the building was extended two years ago.

Meanwhile, the sheep shearing competition proved a perennial favourite, with crowds of eager onlookers watching the action.

In the horticultural tent, secretary Angeline Preece reported strong entries in all sections. Large numbers of visitors admired the wealth of dahlias, chrysanthemums and other blooms, as well as displays of lovingly nurtured fruit and vegetables.

A scarecrow competition, on the theme of a country sport, produced a series of colourful figures.

Meanwhile, top quality entries in the domestic section and the handicraft and art section once again attracted tremendous interest.

Sally Boyce sallycolinaboyce@yahoo.co 07557 388133
Courtesy of the Hereford Times

Still blazing a trail after nearly a century and a half, Kington Show continues to grow from strength to strength, with an army of supporters who feel passionate about this one-day event, reckoned to be among the finest in the country.

Since taking the bold move to relocate the showground to a bigger site out of town, numbers have more than doubled. This year, the show, founded back in 1881, promises plenty for all when the gates open on Saturday, September 12

It’s increasing popularity as Herefordshire’s premier one-day show is due in part to an unshakeable dedication from the large team of helpers who willingly devote their time and energy to this major event. It’s a must not only on the country calendar, but for townspeople too.

That commitment is clearly evident from this year’s show president, Huntington farmer Robert Jones who takes on the role held by his father, the late Harold Jones, exactly 30 years ago. “It’s a tremendous honour,” says Robert, who has been chairman and chief horse steward of the show for many years. He is also Master of the Radnor and West Hunt.

“Kington Show is an institution and we have a real passion for it,” explains Robert.

Committee meetings have always proved to be “tremendously good”, he says, with a “hard-working bunch of workers”. Nick Layton from Lyonshall will be serving his third and final year as chairman this year, and vice-chairman is Richard Williams from Penrhos Farm. Clare Edwards continues her role as  general secretary.

During the show’s long history, only five presidents have stepped into the shoes of their fathers.

“I am proud to know that I am following my father,” says Robert.

As with other Kington Show presidents, Robert says that his father saw the presidency as the greatest honour of his life. He remembers visiting his father as he drove to Kington for an AGM.

“He was very ill, and I told him I would hand his apologies in.”

Sadly, his father had died by the time he returned home that night.

“The last thing he had said to me was to keep the show going,” says Robert.

“Becoming president is the greatest honour. For local people it is the pinnacle of their social lives.”

Robert is no stranger to holding office. He was chairman for four years from 2000, a period which included the devastating foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. He had served as vice-chairman for three years before taking over as chairman.

“I am very proud to become president after my father. Only five of us have followed our fathers in the history of the show.”

Though the show’s shift, from the previous town site at the Recreation Ground to the present Penrhos location a mile out of Kington, was not entirely popular, it has proved to have been the right decision. “It was a unique setting, but we couldn’t expand,” says Robert. The highest gate entry in town had been 15,000, but last year the show succeeded in more than doubling that figure to 33,000.

Taking over this year as livestock secretary will be Gaynor Kirkham-Painter, who farms near Hay-on-Wye.  Wendy Preece, who stood down from the post due to other work commitments, will carry on as membership secretary, and reports that membership is steadily increasing.

Says Gaynor: “It is a tremendous responsibility, but I am looking forward to it. Once I have gone through this first year, everything will slot into place for future shows.”

She became a fervent fan of the show after moving from Cowbridge, in the Vale of Glamorgan, to Hay with her family in 1995. Her daughter, Katy Edwards, who lives in Kington, is an “avid supporter” she explains.

“In the past we have been travelling abroad,” she says. “I inherited my father’s house in France and spending summers there, and we have been travelling to the Far East.” Settled back at home in Hay, she has horses, cattle and sheep on the farm.

Gaynor has bred pedigree Hereford cattle and pedigree Ryeland sheep as well as Welsh Mountain Section A and D ponies.

“I have a great pride in becoming livestock secretary,” she says. “Kington really is a wonderful show.”

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