HEREFORDSHIRE’S biggest one-day agricultural event cocked a snook at Saturday morning’s heavy burst of rain. By the time the sun came out to shine on Kington Show, so had the crowds.

Lasting only minutes, the torrential downpour was badly timed at the start of a busy schedule. But the show proceeded with gusto, and though wellies were the order of the day, there was a positive mood among the thousands of show-goers at the Penrhos site near Kington.

A half-hourly shuttle provided by Sargeants’ buses brought visitors from town, and as cars poured into fields designated for parking, an army of volunteers laid straw on the muddiest patches. This vantage point afforded a spectacular view of the showground, looking across to Ladylift hill and on towards Hereford, filled with elegant, traditional marquees, a forest of flags and a buzz of activity.

President of the show, Robert Jones, whose father, the late Harold Jones was president 30 years ago, said the show was a great asset to the county. “This is a backdrop of where we live,” he said.

There was an abundance of trade stands and displays, and the horticultural tent was ablaze with flowers, fruit and vegetables. The latter did not disappoint with humongous specimens such as a football-sized onion, a two-foot long runner bean and a cucumber weighing over a stone.

A central theme was of course, the traditional classes of horses, cattle, sheep and dogs, not to mention a collection of amenable ferrets. One of the high points, the grand parade, produced something of a record for Kington.

From the ringside, spectators gasped in admiration at the poised performance by Kate Mills, riding side-saddle on Beryl Gough’s 10-year-old mare, Nolton Hareton, who won the champion horse prize and went on to scoop the show’s supreme champion rosette. Show president Robert Jones, dubbed the ‘Mayor of Huntington’, declared this riding style to be a first for Kington.

“I’ve been coming to Kington Show for over 60 years since I was in the pram, and I don’t ever remember a side-saddle entry,” said Mr Jones. “I am a horse man, and I like a fine hunter with a fine rider, and this is an outstanding horse and rider.” Mr Jones said the horse was bought 10 years ago in the Leominster sales, and had hunted regularly.

Among those watching the winner, festooned in rosettes and ribbons, gallop round the ring in a magnificent lap of honour, was Mrs Rosamund Banks. She said she could not remember anyone riding side-saddle at the show.

Judging the ridden hunters’ section, Major Patrick Darling said Miss Mills, on county-bred horse, Nolton Hareton, was awarded the winning rosette in the horse section. “We had a high quality of entry, but I judged her to be champion,” he said, explaining that he learned the art of riding side-saddle himself in France.

“It’s a different orientation, you have to twist your spine, but the saddle gives a perfect balance,” he said.

Hereford bull, Normanton 1 Lionel took top honours in the cattle section, owned by T.D. & W.T. Livesey from Leicestershire.

“We are over the moon,” said Mr Livesey. “The bull is 20 months, still a baby, but after the show circuit he’ll be put to work.” Spectators were told that Kington Show had been encouraging the breed for well over a century.

There was praise for other cattle breeds represented at the show, and a pat on the back for those youngsters who tackled the Young Handlers’ competitions. The requirement for six to 16-year-olds to handle cattle and sheep, as well as learning how to present them to judges, gave them a valuable experience, show-goers were told. A variety of sheep breeds was represented, including Ryelands, Suffolks, Texels, Kerry, Badger faced and native lowlands.

In the dog show, secretary Jenny Dennis reported a good entry, with a Rottweiler bitch, Westfalen’s Grand Design, judged to be top dog on the day.

Arts and crafts attracted large interest among the crowds, and visitors were tempted to try Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s own fresh apple juice, the fruit picked, pressed and bottled just the day before the show. Wye Valley Beekeepers showed honey bees in action, and there was a chance to find out more about Almeley’s Quaker Meeting House. One of the oldest in the country, the building was extended two years ago.

Meanwhile, the sheep shearing competition proved a perennial favourite, with crowds of eager onlookers watching the action. In the horticultural tent, secretary Angeline Preece reported strong entries in all sections. Large numbers of visitors admired the wealth of dahlias, chrysanthemums and other blooms, as well as displays of lovingly nurtured fruit and vegetables. A scarecrow competition, on the theme of a country sport, produced a series of colourful figures, while top quality entries in the domestic section and the handicraft and art section once again attracted tremendous interest.