Perth Show’s organisers are proud of being firmly focused on farming – whether that’s the serious job of hosting this year’s National Beltex Show or providing the venue for young farmers to slog it out at tug o’war.
The chairman of Perthshire Agricultural Society, Mark Mitchell – a chartered surveyor and managing partner of Bell Ingram in Perth – says the core remit is to showcase the best of local food production and find ways of drawing the wider community onto the South Inch showground to discover more about the sector.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s show, he said: “There has always been this belief the general public don’t understand agriculture so it’s our job to help them do that, and if that involves a bit of rural-based entertainment, that’s what we’ll provide.
“We haven’t gone for gimmicks like motorbikes, but we do have carriage driving, pony club games and young farmers – things that are core to the rural community.”
New to the show for 2022 are donkey rides, therapy ponies, a “find the missing duck” competition for small children, pig racing in the main ring – and a standalone dog show in conjunction with Dog-Friendly Perthshire.
“A huge number of people got dogs during the pandemic, and while we’ve tinkered with small dog shows in the past this is more serious and it will run all day on Saturday,” he said.
In common with every other show society across the country, the Perthshire team is relieved to be back in business after two years of hosting virtual shows, but Mr Mitchell admits there was some trepidation that exhibitors and trade stand holders might not turn out.
“We were worried that having got out of the swing of things, they might not come back, but actually we’ve seen really good livestock entries across the board, and the trade stands that are coming are all excellent, so we’ve enjoyed great support,” he added.
“In terms of making a comeback we needed to market ourselves to make the show more relevant. It’s something we’ve been working on over the last 10 years with the development of the food hall and Perthshire on a Plate.”
This year also sees pop up restaurants offering sample dishes from local businesses. On Friday the showground will be filled with 336 horses and on Saturday the sheep pens are crammed full of more than 400 entries.
Mr Mitchell was elected chairman in November 2019 – in the expectation that it would be the usual one-year gig, so the build-up to next week’s event has been unprecedented.
He said: “After hanging on for two years it’s now a reality check that it’s actually happening – and coming at us very quickly!”