Show gives townies a taste of the country

Thousands flock to 125th Hertfordshire County Show

SKIPPY the guard-goat, and his teeny, tiny buddy, Rascal the TV addict, were just two interesting characters among a cast of hundreds at last weekend’s 125th Hertfordshire County Show in Redbourn.

Thousands of people pulled on their wellies and armed themselves with coats to enjoy the event, where town meets country and well-bred champions from the latter strut, jump, or just look plain cute for judges and an appreciative audience.

In the goat marquee, Debbie Chennells, of Dunstable, explained that the goats she has rescued are so clever that she house-trained them in just a matter of weeks to be indoor pets.

She said that ‘Rascal,’ a miniature pygmy goat, “sits on my lap and watches television.” The friendly one-and-a-half-foot-high goat has already won two rosettes as an honorary canine at a dog show.

His larger counterpart, five-year-old British Alpine ‘Skippy,’ is so big that when Debbie takes him out for a stroll, children often mistake him for a pony. Skippy is an impressive 8ft high when he balances on his hind legs and apparently uses his height advantage to guard Debbie’s house to keep other goats out.

In the rabbit marquee visitors shared childhood memories of their own pet bunnies as they wandered past a range of breeds including New Zealand White, Netherland Dwarf and Belgian Hare.

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A regular show-goer, Stewart Hunter, of Shenley, started going to the event about 50 years ago, originally to show cattle. He described himself as, “a little helper,” now providing commentary for livestock judging and performing stewarding duties. As per tradition, stewards sport bowler hats and suits so they are easily recognisable.

Some of the bulls are a beefy 900kg. Despite their hefty appearance though, the cattle looked at ease when not under the eagle eye of judges in the livestock arena.

Ben Garratt and Hillary Jones who travelled from Kent, and Claire and Paul Thomas, of Reading, agreed their British Blonde females and bulls were, “totally relaxed.”

Hillary said: “They are so beautiful, they are so lovely to handle because their temperament is so good.”

Paul said they were ideal to breed as not only did they have a 99 per cent survival rate, “they are easy calves, with loads of energy.”

Ben said he had been breeding British Blondes for 24 years and attending the county show for 22 years, because it is an early show in the season and provides an ideal opportunity to introduce young animals to such events.

He said the Herts County Show was also a, “shop window to see how the breeding is improving over the years.”

Hillary added: “There are people who are committed to livestock and it’s a farm show, and farming is at the heart of it which is why it’s so popular.”

Mary Smart, assistant show secretary, said it was good to see, “a lot of smiling faces and lots of shopping bags.”

Show-goers enjoyed a wide range of food, arts and crafts, and entertainment such as the racing Herts flyball team, combined service tug-of-war contests, eagle and vulture display and human circus.

Static displays included meticulously restored machinery, with the likes of a 1928 Austin 12/4, courtesy of the Chiltern Vehicle Preservation Group, with founder Michael Cain, of Kensworth, explaining that, “it’s a hobby that gets you away from the TV and gives you something to do on cold winter nights.”

Emergency service personnel were also mingling with the crowd, with youngsters keen to look at the likes of state-of-the-art technology in the communication vehicle used by the Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team for the East of England, which attends major fires, building collapses, terrorist or chemical related incidents.

The show is organised by the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society, which promotes country skills, crafts, trades and professions associated with farming and agriculture.

Results of the various judged categories, including showjumping, sheep, cattle and horses and ponies, are available on the show’s website: