Turra Show still vibrant after 159 years

1 Aug 2023

By Jane Craigie

Turriff Show means so much to so many people and has done for over 150 years. It dates back to 1864, when Queen Victoria was still on the throne, the American Civil War was still raging, and Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as the President of the United States.

The Show has always been steeped in farming and farming’s community. It was originally held in the town – rather than its ‘new’ home in the Haughs – for a single day after Mart Day, and was ‘an agricultural show of livestock, implements of husbandry and dairy produce.’

I would relish a journey back to that time to experience the bustle of Turra’s streets as the latest farming equipment – threshing machines and horse-drawn wooden ploughs and seeders – livestock and people arrived in town.

In many ways the essence of the Show, which runs tomorrow and Monday, hasn’t changed. Farming, food and the local community are still what makes it such a special event. And close to 25,000 people flocking to Turriff for the show is great for the area.

It is a magnet to people of all ages, backgrounds and interests, and an event that everyone is proud to say, “that’s our local show”, “the largest two-day agricultural show in Scotland” where we have a chance to see livestock, try local food and catch up with folk for a news, a dram and a few hours debating who has the best ewe, bull or colt.

Our team feels so privileged to work with the Show – as we have done since 2018 – to help promote what’s on, who’s involved and to be a part of making sure that this Show continues well into next century and beyond.

Turriff Show may be local, but it’s mighty in the UK’s show calendar, it hosts 1,554 classes – cattle, sheep, cavies, pigeons, dogs, horses, the best garden produce, baked goods, flower arrangements, vintage vehicles and many more for which it awards over £88,000 in prize money and 320 trophies.

And, compared with its bigger siblings – the Royal Highland, Royal Welsh and Yorkshire Shows – it’s organised by a very lean team of immensely dedicated staff, and an army of committee volunteers, some of whose families have been building pens, putting up tents and serving food and drink for many, many generations.

It doesn’t seem to matter what new innovations the organisers create, the love for the show is steadfast. Just last weekend I joined Annie Kenyon on her table at Turriff Show Ladies’ Day. The 360 drinking, dining, and dancing ladies raised over £20,000 for Scottish Huntington’s Association and The World Suicide Prevention Project. The incredible auction and raffle prizes were all donated by local people and businesses.

New for this year is a Business Breakfast, held on the Monday morning, which will debate the big issues in farming. Speakers will talk about changes to support arrangements, net zero opportunities and how Scottish farming might need to adapt and change.

And returning will be the magnet for us all, the EQ Food and Drink Pavilion, with over 40 stand holders serving samples of food and drink. The cooking and butchery demonstrations are always a great place to sit and lick a local ice-cream.

While times were very different 159 years ago when the Turra Show started, what hasn’t changed is the special place these two days have in our farming calendar, in the progression of farming’s practices and our local community.

Make sure that you come along to the Show this Sunday and Monday, it depends on all of our support to keep it strong for generations to come.

Jane is a Chartered Marketer with over 25 years’ experience in marketing within the agri-food sector. She is a member of the executive board of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists and the council of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists. Jane is a graduate of the IAgrM and Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programmes, is a Windsor Leadership Alumna and a Waitangi Scholar. Board member for Lantra and a Professional Agriculturalist (P.Agric) and RingLink Scotland. Jane is a Director and co-founder of the Rural Youth Project.