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Nancy Nicolson: Show is a diversion from life’s realities

ICONIC: Winning at the Highland will always be the ultimate accolade.

The build-up has lasted almost three years and the hype in recent weeks has been relentless, so it’s no surprise that next  Friday and Saturday are almost sell-out show days at Ingliston.

The Royal Highland Show (RHS) organisers are now advising anyone still debating whether or not to attend the big bicentenary event to book tickets for Thursday or Sunday instead.

They also emphasise that no tickets will be available to buy on the gate on any day.
So, there’s undoubtedly plenty of enthusiasm for the return of “The Show”, but whether or not it’s from farming folks or townies who are more interested in food and crafts than tractors or livestock, it’s impossible to know.

I’ve been to three summer shows already this season and at each one there’s been muttering and resentment from members and exhibitors about the changes introduced to this year’s Ingliston event.

The fury over asking members to specify the days they’ll be attending, and breeders’ concerns over disruption to their stock over a loud concert on the showground have been well aired here and across social media, and should cause the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) to tread more carefully in future.

But, in fairness, for livestock breeders the early summer shows are but dress rehearsals for the big event and it would be impossible to ignore the escalation of excitement in recent weeks as handlers have assessed the competition and championship rosettes have been handed out in Fife and Angus.

Winning at the Highland will always be the ultimate accolade.

For those doing neither, but simply taking a day away from the farm to wander down the stock or machinery lines and bump into old friends, it will be a welcome relief from the pressures of input inflation which this week prompted the Scottish Government to bring forward the date of annual farm payments, and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to increase overdraft limits and introduce capital repayment holidays.

The immaculate livestock and white-coated handlers, the food, company and craic create a feel-good atmosphere that makes you proud to be part of this industry.

And if you don’t have a ticket, there’s always the option of putting your feet up at home for the live broadcasts from the showground which are free to watch at via RHS TV.

See you there.

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