A RECORD 188,449 visitors flocked to the 175th Royal Highland Show over its four day run, which came to an end yesterday.
The figure marked an increase of almost 10,000 on the 2014 attendance – and beat the previous record, set in 2010, by 805.
And with the increase spread across the course of the show’s four-day run, the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s (RHASS) chief executive Stephen Hutt said that the event had provided a fantastic opportunity for the show to meet its three aims of providing a world-class business, social and educational event.
Speaking on the final day of the show, he said that for most visitors the main focus was inevitably on the huge turnout of close to 7,000 of Scotland’s finest cattle, sheep, goats, horses and poultry.
He said that the show’s brandnew food offering, Scotland’s Larder Live! - which featured over 120 food and drink exhibitors from across Scotland and the UK - had also brought to life the message that “farming equals food”.
“Once again the Royal Highland Show has lived up to its reputation as one of Scotland’s most enduring and iconic events. Along with being the place to experience the best of farming, food and rural life, it is also still very much the place to ‘do business’, with trade space selling out in record time this year,” said Hutt.
Keith Brooke, the society’s long-serving director of media relations, said that despite expectations to the contrary, farm machinery dealers at the show had received a heartening number of inquiries to be followed up.
It was also revealed that the sheer success of the show in attracting record numbers came close to creating its own problems, with all but 200 spaces on the showground’s 15,000-space car parking facilities being filled on Saturday, the busiest day.
With over 30,000 children attending the show for free over the four days to learn about food, farming and the countryside, at the Royal Highland Education Trust’s Education Centre it was unsurprising that the Society’s emergency procedures for lost children were tested. Hutt said that the show had been put on “lockdown” three times in order to remove any chance of missing children leaving the site:
“Our emergency response team was sent out on three occasions but each time the missing children were found within the recommended ten-minute window.”
He said that the children had generally simply strayed from their parents or minders and had been found nearby, often unaware of the activity they had created. Hutt also admitted that an incident on Saturday night had seen the popular Herdsman’s bar closed early, and required police involvement.
The show also cemented its image as the “place to be seen” amongst the political classes with official visits from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, UK Farm Minister Liz Truss and Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead in attendance.
Princess Anne was also visited the show – billed as the largest outdoor event in Scotland which contributed an estimated £47.1 million to the Scottish economy last year.
COWS ’N’ CHRISTENING
The Royal Highland Show has been the venue for many farming engagements and even three weddings in the past – but yesterday marked the first on-site christening to take place during the show.
Caithness couple Andrew and Jo Morris from Olrig Mains, Castleton, Thurso, who have been keen competitors in the Charolais cattle lines, chose the event for the baptism of their ten-month-old daughter, Emily, as they originally met at the show.
The ceremony was conducted by the show chaplain, the Reverend Andrew Campbell of Gargunnock and music and song were provided by a brass band and the Farmers’ Wives choir.
Junior beef interbreed: Major Walter, Balthayock, Perthshire with Balthayock Imp, a twelve month old homebred Charolais bull by Blelack Forester and out of Balthayock Christine.
Reserve: M and J Alford, Foxhilfarm, Blackborough, Cullompton, Devon with Foxhilfarm Jasper an eighteen month old home-bred Limousin bull by Loosebear Fantastic and out of Bankdale Alice.
Beef cattle team interbreed: Aberdeen Angus with a team consisting of stock from – Alistair Clark and Sons, Avisyard Farm, Cumnock, Ayrshire; W and D McLaren and HW Angus, Netherton, Blackford; Whittaker and Co Farms, Stickle Heaton Farm, Cornhill on Tweed, Northumberland; and FJ Fraser and Son, Idvies, Farm Forfar.
Reserve: Limousin team from W J and M Mash Ltd, Torrington Farm, Buckinghamshire; two from M and J Alford, Foxhilfarm, Devon; and T. Illingworth, Howgillside, Lockerbie.
Overall Beef interbreed: F J Fraser and Son, Idvies Farm, Forfar with Shadwell Black Broughton a five-year-old bull by Muirhall Total Deal and out of Shadwell Blackbird.
Reserve: Major Walter, Balthayock, Perth with Balthayock Imp, a twelve month old homebred Charolais bull by Blelack Forester and out of Balthayock Christine.
Sheep interbreed: A Gray and Son, Langside Farm, Kirkfield Bank, Lanark with a Charollais shearling tup by Banwy Ninja.
Reserve: J Wight and Son, Midlock Farm, Biggar with a home-bred two-crop Blackface ewe by a £90,000 Dalchirla tup.
Sheep interbreed pairs: A Gray and Son, Langside Farm, Lanark with a Charollais shearling tup and a home-bred ewe.
Reserve: W and T Thomson, Hownam Grange, Morebattle Kelso with a North Country Cheviot homebred gimmer and WD Allen, Humbleheugh, Alnwick Northumberland with a two-shear tup.