It’s the biggest agricultural show in Dorset

THE annual migration of 24,000 people to the Motcombe Turnpike Showground takes place on Wednesday August 14 this year, such is the pulling power of Dorset’s premier agricultural show.

The Gillingham and Shaftesbury Agricultural Show is the one that the farming community takes the day off for, with highly competitive sections for cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, poultry, rabbits, homecrafts, handicrafts, art and a huge range of classes for younger exhibitors, all need to be entered in advance.

The Education Area, introduced in 2018, is back: it’s called Farm, Food & Fun, which aims to show how milk, meat and grain are produced on local farms and how it eventually reaches the table, with lots of hands-on activities.

“The 2019 Show looks all set to be one of the best events ever, with a record number of trade exhibitors, a great range of attractions for all the family and entries for the competitive classes being received at a record rate,” says show secretary Sam Braddick.

In the Harts of Stur Food Hall there are more than 60 food and drink producers, including a gluten-free bakery specialist, local wines and cheeses, speciality Greek food providers, hot pies to be eaten, beer and cider to be drunk, along with a huge range of takeaway hot foods.

There are more than 520 trade stands this year, with everything from schools to trucks and handicrafts. There are also 100 stands with tractors, machinery and farm suppliers. And there are displays in three rings: the east ring has a full day of horse showing classes and show jumping classes. In the Turnpike Ring, countryside sports are on show: ferret and terrier racing, gundogs, falconry, sheep dogs and the dog & duck display.

In the Main Ring, the programme starts at 10am with Private Driving classes. A vintage and classic car parade follows at 11am, then modern machinery (11.30 and 2.30), heavy horses (12.15), hounds and beagles (1pm), polo (2pm and 4.30pm), vintage tractors (3.15pm), Shetland pony racing (4pm and 5.15pm) and balloon ascent (6pm).

The Grand Parade of prize-winning cattle and sheep will be held in the cattle judging ring at 3.15pm. There is music from 10.30am-4.30pm in the Entertainment Marquee (Tent No 19); take the weight off your feet in the Church Rest Tent (Tent No 8) and a cookery theatre (Tent No 15) next to the Food Hall (17). There will be a number of cookery demonstrations: how to make hummus (10am) or ice-cream (11am); how to prepare and cook trout (12 noon); how to prepare and cook local meat, including venison (1pm); how to make bread (2pm) and gin (3pm)!

Back to the Show by popular request is the ‘Scare Crow Trail,’ whereby trade exhibitors make up a scarecrow that represents their business. Visitors are invited to buy a judging form (all funds to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) and select the best crows. There are prizes for the winning exhibitors – and to three visitors who voted.

Details: The Gillingham and Shaftesbury show (Postcode: SP7 9PL) is two miles is mid way between Shaftesbury and Gillingham on the B3081, and runs from 8.30am to 6.30pm. Tickets cost £14 in advance (£16 on the day). Free car parking and free bus service from many areas. Mobility scooters are available to hire for the Show day and must be pre-booked via or 01202 670450, Monday to Friday 11am – 3pm.