More than 60,000 people flocked to the Dorset County Show this year, its 148th year. The weather was perfect and there was, as ever, something for everyone. The first county Show was held at Kingston Maurward in 1840, the year Thomas Hardy was born and the Penny Black stamp came out.
Could the organisers of that first show imagine how the show would evolve? The modern show has managed to keep the traditional elements of Dorset, farming, food, horses and competition, while new attractions have been added. Top of the bill this year was camel racing, never before seen in Dorset, and it certainly drew in the crowds. When not racing these intriguing creatures could be viewed close-up and there was always a crowd round their enclosure.
In addition to the camels, in the main ring, the grand parade, scurry racing, show jumping, parade of vintage tractors, coaching marathon were equally exciting and as popular as ever. The animals were the stars, with the Indian running ducks and the dogs in the Countryside ring firm favourites.
Despite the extremes of weather we have experienced this year, the horticulture tent was full of amazing exhibits demonstrating the knowledge and tenacity of Dorset growers. The Dorset Food Tent was full of irresistible cheeses, bread, bakes, cider and other drinks, chutneys and jams – tempting!
All manner of food was available, the aromas rising from the many outlets were mouth-watering. Every country was represented if exotic is your taste, but the Dorset hog roast and cream tea were readily available.
Meanwhile stands in the Artisan tent sold stylish examples of Dorset-made jewellery, pottery, woodwork and metalwork.
Both days at the show were equally well attended and the atmosphere was exactly what one would expect of a Dorset Show – a blend of enthusiasm and competitiveness tinged with amiability.
It is good to see the traditional events hold their own with the unconventional, proof that we can accept and embrace change.