Shetland’s Summer Shows: Much More Than Agriculture

by Alastair Hamilton -

The annual round of agricultural shows is one of the highlights of the Shetland summer. Shetland has three main ones, at Voe in the North Mainland, Cunningsburgh in the South Mainland and Walls (Waas) in the West Mainland.

They aren’t of course, just about agriculture, although there are always plenty of beautifully-presented animals on show, along with selections of vegetables that would be the envy of any keen gardener. They also include art and craft work, knitwear, photography, baking and more.

I went along to the last of the larger shows, at Walls in Shetland’s west mainland. Aside from a few short but heavy showers, it was a very pleasant day. The car park was nearly full and the showground was abuzz as folk caught up with each other’s news and compared notes on the exhibits. Highlights included an invasion of Vikings, in the shape of the South Mainland Up Helly A squad; there were other diversions, too, including archery and a small display of classic cars.

the showground was abuzz

The judges were impressed by the overall standard of entries and it was good to see that the numbers of cattle and ponies had increased from last year. It was also encouraging to see younger members of the farming community do so well. Erin Ridland (13), from Westerskeld, won the title of overall cattle champion and Campbell Ridland (14) became overall champion and reserve champion in Shetland sheep. It seems that Shetland’s crofts and farms will continue to be in capable hands.

The marquees housed the usual wide range of exhibits. The quality of vegetables on show was really high, with some beautiful potatoes, onions and beetroot, among other things, plus an impressive selection in a wheelbarrow. The creations made from assorted vegetables and fruit always raise a smile.

The baking section at shows never fails to impress and there was a great selection of cakes. Swiss Rolls were clearly a popular choice for entrants and the chocolate cakes, even seen through a protective veil of cellophane, looked irresistible.

One particularly striking entry was a large farmhouse cheese.

In the arts and crafts area, there was a good range of Shetland knitwear and lace, as well as woodwork, paintings, lots of photography and more unusual items such as painted stones and scarecrows. There was a demonstration of spinning, too, and some Shetland fleece.

a good range of Shetland knitwear and lace

All in all, it was a great afternoon’s entertainment. The day was later completed by the customary show dance, which this year was held in the village of Sandness, a few miles to the north.

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