Birstwith Show is still a hit after 150 years!

A few of the adverts in the programme are the same as 50 years ago and some of the faces set to attend this weekend may be familiar but Birstwith Show is looking to the future as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 27th July 2017, 4:50 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 1:06 pm
Nostalgia - Mothers line up for the baby competition in 1956 at Birstwith Show.
Nostalgia - Mothers line up for the baby competition in 1956 at Birstwith Show.

It's true that this most traditional and popular of village shows not that far from Harrogate has never lost sight of its roots.

Nor has it resorted to many modern gimmicks since it first took place in a tent in a field in 1867.

But its hard-working organisers now tend to spread the word by Facebook and such are the political sensitivities of the 21st century that this year’s baby show will be the last.

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Proud of the 150th Birstwith Show - Lynda Holmes (trophy secretary), Amy Holmes (secretary) and Andrea Walwyn (show promotions). (1707241AM1)

Sean McPartland, chairman of organisers Birstwith Horticultural Society, has paid tribute to all the people who keep the show going so strongly, especially the 13-strong committee.

He said: “The committee have been working very hard towards celebrating this significant milestone.

“We also have incredible volunteers who come out in droves to pit on what can be considered one of the best shows in the area.”

The unsung heroes of Birstwith Show are many, possibly too many to mention here. Well respected in the village as a whole, Marion Stockdale will be helping again this year with the WI stand in what will be her 60th Birstwith Show. Veteran volunteers include Harry Eastland and John Hindle both help with setting up the show and John is our master of ceremonies.

Proud of the 150th Birstwith Show - Lynda Holmes (trophy secretary), Amy Holmes (secretary) and Andrea Walwyn (show promotions). (1707241AM1)

Martin Green has been involved in the show over 20 years and has brought Birstwith Show into the modern day by developing the software for the show entries which has helped it become more streamlined and attract more exhibitors.

Birstwith Show committee member Andrea Walwyn said: “We are really looking forward to celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Great Birstwith Show. The fact that the show has been going for so long speaks volumes about the volunteers but it also says a lot about the support of the whole community and what a truly great show it is.”

As visitors to the 150th show this Saturday at the Show Field between Kerry Ingredients and Birstwith Primary School will discover, its headline attractions remain the same as ever.

A horticultural competition of flowers, vegetables and fruit open to different age groups, the world’s strongest man contest, Pete White and his Suitcase Circus, not to forget the princess parade and a dog show which has run every year since its foundation.

As a sign of its good health at such a grand, old age, not only are crowd numbers holding up but the number of horticultural entries is set to hit a new record, up by more than 100 on last year.

Plans are also in hand for a few special novelties as attendees tuck into a beer from the bar or something sweeter from the Pimms and Prosecco Tent to toast Birstwith Show’s historic year.

There will be a display of some of the memorabilia from years gone by in the main tent, including a show programme from way back in 1869.

Each year the show is opened by the Show Princess and two attendants but, as part of this year’s celebration, several past Show Princesses are to take part, too.

Bringing this year’s show up to date, popular local rock band The Directors will perform at the night time party as a fireworks display signals an end to another show.

Originally titled The Great Birstwith Horticultural Show, the early years lacked today’s attention to health and safety regulations.

During the 1890s an obstacle race was held in which competitors had to negotiate sacks, tubs, high bars and finally eat a bun, then swallow a bottle of ginger beer and walk a plank with a wheelbarrow backwards!

In 1951 the name of the organisation changed to Birstwith Horticultural Society and it was moved to the school field in the hope of attracting passing visitors as more cars started to appear on rural roads. . .

Times may change but Birstwith Show keeps its flag flying for the best of British.