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Ideas / Album / County Show
County shows in the UK

This page is an introduction to regional agricultural shows in the UK - these are often known as county shows. A visit to one of these shows will give you a taste of country life. Links to many of the shows are given at the bottom of the page to help you to find one that is near year and to find when it takes place.

The photos on this page were taken in 2008 at the Oxfordshire County and Thame Show and at the Bucks County Show.
To get to the Oxfordshire County and Thame Show from London by public transport, either:
(i) Take a train from London Marylebone to Aylesbury, walk to Aylesbury bus station (5 minutes), and take a bus, or:
(ii) Take a train from London Paddington to Oxford, then take a bus
To get to the Bucks County Show from London by public transport, take a Chiltern Railways train from Marylebone to Aylesbury, walk to Aylesbury bus station (5 minutes), and take a bus from there

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At the Bucks County Show the following types types of sheep were judged: Charollais, Suffolk, Texel, Southdown, Wiltshire Horn, Pure Breeds (for breeds other than the ones previously listed), Cross Breeds and Butchers Lambs. The Young Handlers competition allowed shepherds aged between 9-14 to show off their skills at handling and displaying a sheep.

Sheep are judged in pens, and the winners
are awarded rosettes and small cash prizes

An entertaining introduction to the different
breeds of sheep (The Sheep Show)

British Sheep Breeds
Author: Elizabeth Henson
Publisher: Shire Publications Ltd
Date: June 1986

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Various classes of cattle are judged, with winners receiving rosettes or trophies and small cash prizes.

The most popular pure breed of beef cattle in Britain is Limousin, while other common Continental varieties include Charolais and Simmental. Native British breeds include Aberdeen Angus, Herefords, South Devons and British Blue. The most popular breed for dairy cattle is Holstein-Friesian, which produces about 80% of the UK's milk. Jerseys and South Devons create especially rich milk from which clotted cream is produced in south-west England.

A boy has a go at handling this cow
(a Limousin, with a brown head and body)

A prize-winning dairy cow
(a Holstein-Friesian, with black and white head and body)

This Hereford cow has a rest in the Cattle Tent
(a Hereford, with a white head and brown/white body)

British Cattle
Author: Val Porter
Publisher: Shire Publications Ltd
Date: November 2001
The Secret Life of Cows
Author: Rosamund Young
Publisher: Farming Books & Videos
Date: April 2007

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The industrial revolution led to the use of tractors and other forms of agricultural machinery, but before this time horses were an important source of labour on farms. Many shows include demonstrations of some of the ways in which horses were used, for example to pull hay carts or for ploughing the fields.

Showjumping competitions often takes place at the showground. Horses must jump over a series of obstacles in the correct order. The winner is the rider who completes the course in the fastest time and who achieves a clear round or the lowest number of faults.

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Some county shows include a dog show. If this is a "Premier Show" licensed by the Kennel Club then the winners of each Best of Breed may qualify for entry in Crufts (the UK's top annual dog competition).

The judge checks a dog

Many different breeds take part

Terrier racing is an unusual sport which is fun to watch: a set of terriers try to catch a moving object on a rope, controlled by a man with a pedal. Terriers have traditionally been used by farmers to deal with problems caused by rats and rabbits.

A sheepdog display shows off the herding skills of sheepdogs, although because of the limited space at a county show this is usually done with birds rather than sheep (if you enjoy watching sheepdogs you may enjoy making a visit to a sheepdog trial - these used to be shown regularly on television in a programme called One Man and His Dog, but recently this has been shown only once a year as a Christmas special).

Terrier racing
(by the Tricky Tykes Terrier Racing Display Team)

Sheepdog display
(by Bob Hogg Sheepdog Display)

The Hunting Act 2004 banned hunting of wild animals with dogs in England and Wales, after a similar act was passed in Scotland in 2002. However there are exemptions within the laws which have allowed some traditional hunting societies and packs of foxhounds to remain. The Thame Show included a display by the Vale of Aylesbury Hunt and their foxhounds, and by the Old Berkeley Beagles.

A rider from the Vale of Aylesbury Hunt

A pack of foxhounds

A beagle picks up a scent

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Some county shows have a tent where caged birds (pigeons and exotic birds) and rabbits are exhibited. This is a chance to see many different varieties and perhaps to ask questions about caring for these animals.

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Motor cycle display teams often entertain the crowds in the main ring. They perform stunts such as jumping over cars, high speed crossovers, and acrobatics either on the ground or in mid-air. The photos below are of the Motorcycle Display Team of the Royal Artillery, at the 2008 Thame Show.

Motor cycle jumping over four cars

Five riders balancing on a bike

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Old tractors, cars or other vehicles may be paraded - there are many societies in the UK whose members maintain and display these. Many of the shows originated many years ago as ploughing matches, and some keep up this tradition by providing ploughing demonstrations in a neighbouring field with either horses or tractors.

World Encyclopedia of Tractors
Author: John Carroll
Publisher: Southwater
Date: February 2007
The Complete Encyclopedia of Vintage Cars 1886 - 1940
Author: Rob De La Rive Box
Publisher: Rebo Productions
Date: January 2006

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Bands of different kinds are often invited to provide musical entertainment to the crowds.

Pipes and drums band

Brass band

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There are always a wide variety of trade stands, plus craft and food stalls for visitors of all ages.

Willow crafts

Sweets stall

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Flowers, fruit or vegetables produced by local gardeners or horticulturalists may be on display in a tent. The sizes of some of the vegetables will usually impress ...

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There may be live cookery demonstrations, or competitions in which home-made cakes, biscuits, jams or other products are judged by an expert.

Cookery demonstration

Cookery competition: a Victoria sandwich

Judges comment on each entry

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Fairground stalls may be set up, allowing visitors to test their skill or luck to win a prize. Sometimes a travelling fair is invited to the nearby town or village to provide evening entertainment after the show.

Throw the ball in the milk churn ...

... to win a prize such as this

One of the funfair rides in the centre of Thame

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A popular closing event at some of the county shows (provided that the weather allows) is the launch of some hot air balloons.

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There are agricultural shows throughout the UK, mainly from May to September. You can use the table below to look up some of the shows in the counties which are near you. Use the website links to check the dates and details of the next shows.

If you need to refer to a map showing the counties of Britain, click on this link:
(you will need to click on the map to change the zoom size so that you can read it clearly)


County Show (in alphabetical order) Website
Hampshire Alresford Show
Leicestershire Ashby Show
Derbyshire Bakewell Show
Buckinghamshire Bucks County Show
Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire County Show
Cheshire Cheshire County Show
Gloucestershire Cotswold Show
Surrey Cranleigh Show
Cumbria Cumberland Show
Derbyshire Derbyshire County Show
Devon Devon County Show
Dorset Dorset County Show
East Yorkshire Driffield Show
Lincolnshire East of England Show
Surrey Edenbridge and Oxted Show
County Durham Eggleston Show
Northumberland Glendale Show
Bedfordshire Gransden Show
North Yorkshire Great Yorkshire Show
Oxfordshire Henley Show
Hertfordshire Herts County Show
Kent Kent County Show
Leicestershire Leicestershire County Show
Lincolnshire Lincolnshire Show
Cumbria Lowther Horse Driving Trials & Country Fair
Devon Mid Devon Show
Somerset Mid Somerset Show
Cheshire Nantwich and South Cheshire Show
Nottinghamshire Newark & Nottinghamshire County Show
Hampshire New Forest & Hampshire County Show
North Yorkshire Nidderdale Show
Northumberland Northumberland County Show
North Yorkshire North Yorkshire Show
Somerset North Somerset Show
Oxfordshire Oxfordshire County and Thame Show
South Yorkshire Penistone Show
Cumbria Penrith Show
Cambridgeshire Pymoor Agricultural & Country Show
Hampshire Romsey Show
Somerset Royal Bath & West Show
Cornwall Royal Cornwall Show
Berkshire Royal County of Berkshire Show (Newbury Show)
Hampshire Royal Isle of Wight Agricultural Society Show
Lancashire Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show
Norfolk Royal Norfolk Show
Warwickshire Royal Show
Rutland Rutland County Show
West Sussex South of England Show
Nottinghamshire Southwell Ploughing Match and Show
Staffordshire Staffordshire County Show
Suffolk Suffolk Show
Surrey Surrey County Show
Worcestershire Three Counties Show
North Yorkshire Wensleydale Agricultural Show
Shropshire West Mid Show
Cumbria Westmorland County Show


County Show (in alphabetical order) Website
Anglesey Anglesey Show
Ceredigion Cardigan County Agricultural Show
Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire County Show (United Counties Show)
Conwy Cerrig Show
Flintshire Denbigh and Flint Show
Ceredigion Lampeter Agricultural Show Show
Ceredigion Llanilar Show
Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire County Show
Powys Royal Welsh Show
Monmouthshire Usk Show


County Show (in alphabetical order) Website
Angus Angus Show
Ayrshire Ayr County Show
Scottish Borders Border Union Show
Perthshire Doune & Dunblane Show
Dumfries & Galloways Dumfries Show
Fife Fife Show
Angus Kirriemuir Show
Argyll & Bute Mid Argyll Show
Edinburgh Royal Highland Show
Dumfries & Galloways Stranraer Show
Aberdeenshire Turriff Show


County Show (in alphabetical order) Website
Belfast Balmoral Show
County Down Castlewellan Show

Some notes about attending agricultural shows:
- Plan your journey in advance. Note that there may be traffic congestion in the roads around the showground.
- If you have a dog, check if they are allowed onto the showground. They should not be left in cars.
- You may be asked to walk through a pool of disinfectant before entering areas where animals are housed (to prevent the risk of disease).
- If you touch any animals at the show, make sure that you wash your hands afterwards.

Lists of agricultural shows can also be found on these websites:
Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI):
The UK Horse Directory:

National Sheep Association guide to sheep breeds:

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Highland games (in Scotland): Ideas/Album/Highland-Games
Dog shows: Ideas/Album/Crufts
Village fetes: Ideas/Album/Village-Fete
Harness horse parade: Ideas/Album/HarnessHorseParade

Photos from other festivals: Ideas/Album
Monthly guide to events in the UK: Ideas/Events

Home page: Home

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