TENS of thousands of visitors are heading to Bakewell today for the town’s annual celebration of country life - The Bakewell Show.
Hundreds of stands, displays and competitions are on offer for the crowds, alongside traditional homemade foods and produce in the many marquees dotted around the showground venue.
The event - one of the oldest agricultural shows in the UK - is now in its 181st year.
The Star found 17-year-old shirehorse Sam happily being shampooed by his owner Maggie Smith, who’d travelled to the show from Llangollen in North Wales.
She’s entering Sam and another of her horses, Patrick, into the heavy horse turn out class.
“I love the Bakewell Show, it’s one of the best of the year,” said Maggie, who has attended the Bakewell Show for the past decade. “I think it’s because of the number of people that come here, and also the heavy horse people always get in a group and have a party on one night.
“The stewards always know exactly what you need too.”
Maggie, aged 54, was preparing the horses with help from her daughter Eluned, 19, and her friend Claire Owlett, 20. She said Sam and Patrick would be neatly brushed before being ready for their big day.
“They’ll hopefully keep clean overnight and then we’ll give them a wash down in the morning,” she added.
Sam and Patrick won firsts at the Great Yorkshire Show last month in their category, which involves pulling a heavy wagon around the show ring.
“I was very pleased with that, I’m hoping to match it,” said Maggie.
Meanwhile, colourful blooms were the order of the day in the horticulture tent.
Nursery owner Tony Devine, from Hollym in East Yorkshire, was putting the finishing touches to a stand filled with 14 different varieties of gladioli.
“I’ve been coming for at least 25 years, possibly longer,” said Tony, who’d spent hours putting up his displays, which also included lilies.
Creative arrangements were also on show in the floral art marquee. Anne Queen, 79, from Old Whittington, Chesterfield, was putting together a piece based around the theme of ‘sunrise and sunset’, made of gerberas, gladioli and carnations.
Around 50 people have entered floral art pieces this year, with competitors from as far afield as Scunthorpe and Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire.
Anne, responsible for the flower arrangements at her local church, said she’s been going to the Bakewell Show since 1984.
“I’ve won one or two things but not a lot,” she said. “I don’t mind if I win a prize at all, though. I’ve entered about five arrangements. I like the competition of it more than anything.”
Farmer Peter Cobley, 49, was hosing down his 16-month-old yearling Hereford bull Gabriel in preparation for the livestock classes.
Peter, who runs Great Poultney Farm in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, said he had a herd of around 40 cows and that Bakewell was part of a busy summer of country shows.
“I try not to do one every week because the cattle start to get tired after a bit,” he said. “Apart from the fun side of shows, the practical side is the fact that it’s advertising and a shop window for ourselves and the herd.”
A table laden with delicious-looking Victoria sponge cakes took pride of place in the Women’s Institute tent, along with art and craft displays.
Gill Speed, WI county vice-chairman, said craft entrants had to create four items around the theme of ‘British traditions’. The winner, from the Mickleover group, had made a seaside display including a knitted sandcastle, scoring 118 out of 120.
“That’s pretty good,” Gill said. “The entries have all been excellent, we’ve had the most for a little while. I think the WI marquee is fantastic and people will be really pleased with it.”