Last night I had a terrible nightmare. I was in the marquee at the Hawkesbury Horticultural Show when I realised I’d forgotten to put in any entries. There I was in a tent full of exhibits and none of them bore my exhibitor number.
Speaking as a past prize winner, this dilemma doesn’t bear thinking about. Okay, so most of my prizes have been in dubious categories such as the odd-shaped vegetable (it was a tomato – don’t ask!) Our hen’s egg entry was also interesting. In our first year of poultry keeping, we assumed that eggs were judged only on size and colour. For weeks we saved our hens’ biggest and brownest. We didn’t realise they’d be cracking them open. Six week old eggs and a hot show tent are not a good combination.
Bad eggs aside, our village show – one of the oldest of its kind in the country – demonstrates our community at its best, bringing together old and young alike.
And I mean at its best. Judges of unparalleled skill and experience ensure the high quality is maintained. A few years ago, when I was on the Show Committee, I attended a meeting at which the onion judge was present. He’d travelled from afar to share his knowledge. He produced from his pocket a set of silver rings, specifically made to check the size of onions. They’d been passed to him from his father. As he was well into retirement, I reckon the rings had been in use for nearly a century. We were in awe.
But don’t let the judges’ high standards put you off submitting an entry. The ultimate prize is not the individual’s red rosette, but one we can all share: a tent full of produce and crafts, representing just about everyone in the village. So not like my nightmare at all, then.
Happy Show Day, everyone!
Hawkesbury Horticultural Show takes place on the last Saturday in August in the Cotswold village of Hawkesbury Upton, Gloucestershire. For more information, visit the Show’s official website.
And in case you want to know more about the poultry-keeping, here’s a post about how we ended up Recharging Battery Chickens.
This post was originally written for the Hawkesbury Parish News (August 2012).