22 June 2024

Sun shines on Smallholding and Countryside Festival to launch show season

Thousands gathered to enjoy a sunny, fun-filled couple of days at the Royal Welsh Smallholding and Countryside Festival in Llanelwedd at the weekend.

 

The two-day event celebrates the many aspects of rural life, showcasing the real diversity of the Welsh countryside and proved to be a great attraction for young families, dog-lovers, smallholders and gardeners.

 

A centrepiece of the event, the Smallholders Centre, provided opportunities for visitors to benefit from a wide variety of information. Smallholding farmers were able to learn about all sorts of interesting activities, including talks on getting started with their farming journey, workshops on making cheese and soap from goat’s milk, beekeeping and no-dig gardening demonstrations.

 

There was plenty on offer for gardeners and horticulturalists as Farming Connect Horticulture took over the Members Centre for the Growers Market, giving growers the opportunity to showcase and sell their products over the two days.

 

The festival is always filled with exciting entertainment and this year was no exception. From woodchopping and forestry competitions to the Medieval Re-enactment Camp, there was a wealth of different rural crafts on display.

 

The Country Life Area was bustling with have-a-go activities, such as the children’s cycling course, small breeds petting farm, circus skills from the Panic Family Circus, donkey rides with Emma’s Donkeys Llanidloes, the Swansea Beekeepers Experience, and a fun fair.

 

The event is great for dog lovers, with hundreds of dogs competing to qualify for Crufts 2025 at the Premier Open Dog Show and the fun novelty dog show hosted by this year’s Royal Welsh Show feature county of Ceredigion.

 

Many children enjoyed the activities and facilities on offer at Play Radnor, whose aim is to enhance the development and well-being of children by providing quality play provision and raising awareness of the importance of play.

 

Attracting competitors and smallholders from near and far, the livestock and equine competitions had an excellent line-up of animals in all sections. For many, the festival is an introduction to the showing world and a first step up the ladder to exhibiting at larger events. The event also shines the spotlight on the more traditional, rare and native breeds.

 

Geraint James, honorary festival director, said: “We were blessed with excellent weather throughout the weekend and everyone was excited to be back in Llanelwedd to kick-start the show season.

 

“The festival complements the other two larger society events – Royal Welsh Show and Royal Welsh Winter Fair – and provides our visitors a relaxed, family-focused event with a wonderful, friendly atmosphere. As dogs are welcome too, it really is the perfect family day out.”

 

The RWAS is passionate about promoting the versatility of wool and the creations that can be made of the material. Meirionnydd Shearing Centre showcased woolhandling and blade shearing competitions, for both novice and intermediate classes, along with a vintage shearing display.

 

Next door in the Craft Art & Education Hall, visitors enjoyed demonstrations from the Gwent Guild of Spinners and Weavers and many wool-related trade stands.

 

The festival display ring was jam-packed with entertainment throughout the two days. Crowds gathered to watch show jumping and working hunter competitions, Dangerous Steve’s quad and motorbike performance, the Paws for Thought Dog Display team’s agility tricks, Scurry Driving competitions, Meirion Owen and his sheepdogs, along with the spectacular display of The Hackney Horse & Pony Driving.

 

No Royal Welsh event would be complete without its offering of food and drink and this year’s festival didn’t disappoint. As well as the Food Hall, which hosts producers showcasing the very best produce from Wales, the popular Welsh Food Village, Gwledd | Feast was bustling throughout the weekend with live music from local performers.

 

“We are very pleased with how popular the new Welsh Food Village, Gwledd | Feast was with our visitors, particularly the live music stage. The area was busy throughout the weekend with the artisan Welsh producers reporting a brisk trade from happy customers.” added Geraint.

 

Aled Rhys Jones, Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) chief executive, said: “The Smallholding and Countryside Festival has been the perfect way to begin the show season. The weather has been glorious and the atmosphere fantastic.

 

“So many families have told me how much they have enjoyed bringing their children to the event and taking part in all the activities.

 

“We are so fortunate to have tremendous support from our sponsors, traders, competitors and visitors at all our events, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back in July for the summer show.”

 

The festival success bodes well for the upcoming Royal Welsh Show, to be held from July 22 -25, just nine weeks away.

 

The festival’s top results were: Sheep: Supreme champion, Jac Issac, Blue Texel; reserve supreme champion, Andrew Davies, Beltex. Group of three: Supreme champion, Jac Issac, Blue Texel; reserve supreme champion, Mr & Mrs Bryn and Glenda Hughes, Black Welsh Mountain.

 

Pigs: Supreme champion, Amanda Phillips, British Saddleback; reserve supreme champion, Isabel Soar with any other modern breed.

 

Angora goat: Supreme champion, Debbie Francis with Cwmstwrdy Kristoff, a pure-bred buck; reserve supreme champion, Jeannie Camm with Paradise Nesta, a pure-bred doe. Angora goat fleece: Supreme champion, David Norman; reserve supreme champion, Debbie Francis. Dairy goat ‘Back to Back’ Show day one and day two, champion, Rachel Sparkes with Wilowriver Yuzu, a female goat entered in the British Alpine Herd Book; reserve champion, R. Sparkes with Wilowriver Aurora, a female goat of any other variety. Dairy goats male champion day one: Champion, Snowdonia Goat Company with Darwil Adonis, a male goat entered in the Saanen o British Saanen section of the herd book.

 

Pygmy goat: Breed champion, Jill Osborne, Penrhiw Cleo with a veteran female seven years and over; reserve champion, Jill Osborne, Penrhiw Gabrielle, an adult female not exceeding six years. Pet champion, P. M. Keates with Gemstone Callista; reserve champion, Tracey Cater with Dreamers Nancy.

 

Cattle: Supreme champion,  Mr David Powell with Shelsleys Kwagga, a Belted Galloway bull;  reserve supreme champion, I. & H. Macleod with Carpenters Curly 20th.

 

Equine Supreme Champion: Mrs A. Crawford with Bassymoor Distant Land, a RIHS large riding horse mare or gelding, handled/ridden by Zara Owen; reserve supreme champion, Rowena Cooper and handled/ridden by Poppy Anderson.