It would not normally have occurred to me to visit the Mid-Somerset Show, but as a volunteer at the Somerset Rural Life Museum, I had been invited to help on their stand for a couple of hours. So I arrived some 50 minutes early to take ‘a quick mooch around’ beforehand. Ha! Quick? – it was vast!
As I arrived, there seemed to be an awful lot of dogs around. I soon understood why.I moved on after a few minutes. The Somerset willow/wicker industry is still thriving, (and indeed we display a wicker coffin in the museum). There was dry stone walling, and timbercraft. I particularly liked the bench which could be moved around like a wheelbarrow. (A wheelbench? Or a benchbarrow?)
I had seen that there was to be a cider pressing at 10.30, so I made my way to the marquee where it was to take place. I saw no pressing, perhaps because judging was still taking place, but was delighted to discover the Rural Life Museum’s stall nearby, as I could now stop worrying that I would never find it.
There were things to entertain children, and dozens, if not hundreds, of stalls selling things to consume, to wear, and to play with, and offering services, commercial, voluntary and public, (no photos of any of these). There were horses, and ponies, sheep, young (and older) shepherds dispensing advice, sheep judgings, sheep products, small goats (and large), alpacas, pigs, and a judge getting down to things. Cattle big and small,
I had wandered about the huge showground so much that I was a little concerned that I’d never find the cider and Somerset heritage marquee again. I was just about on time. One of the children’s activities we offered was stick weaving, which I had never heard of. Custom was slow to begin with, but it picked up, and it was useful that there were two of us to chat with both children and grown-ups. A few had visited the Museum before it closed in 2014 for refurbishment, and some had already visited after it had reopened last year. Some children had already visited in the last few months with their schools, and were keen, and primary school teachers took an interest, as did grandparents.
I had intended to leave the showground when my two-hour stint was up, but I was conscious that there was a lot more to see, and also I hoped to find a leather belt to buy from a craft stall (which I did in due course). As I emerged from the heritage tent it was very sunny and warm – not forecast – and teeming with people. I saw more horses, bees and bee products, bantams,
golden goose eggs (?) and other kinds, and Egg Sheeran. Just when I thought there couldn’t be any more kinds of animals (and was pleased not to have seen cats in cages) I came across a few rabbits. Human exhibits changed every hour. This is the Barnacle Buoys, who often sing in support of the RNLI. (Apologies for the words clipped at the beginning and end. The latter is ‘ago’, and is sung one tone up followed by one tone down – for those concerned.)
The essence of a country show is its produce and homecraft competitions.
More child’s play. Well away from the main dog classes was a ring where some kind of obedience test was happening. I didn’t stay long enough to understand what it was all about, but this apparently obedient dog is here being persuaded by the ring master – in vain and for the third time – to retrieve a ball and take it back to its owner.
Beginning to get hungry, and not keen on any of the fast food on offer, I made my way back to the car park at 2 pm.
The dog classes were continuing.
I was so pleased that the SRLM had appealed to its volunteers for help, and intend to go again another year.