Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Black Isle Show

One of the first things Eleanor and Brian told us about when we agreed to housesit for them, was the Black Isle Show.  It's the biggest Country Fair in Scotland! We have been to country fairs in Northern Ireland and Wales, but this one was much bigger.   It was also over two days, with the bulk of the horse and dog competitions on Wednesday and the cattle on Thursday.

This is the field where we take the dogs to run and chase the ball, but not today, it's full of cars!

Men in kilts are not an unusual sight.
Everything you could imagine, and even a few you would never think of, were for sale at the fair. The amount of vendors with heating units for your entire house, were many; gas, solar, biofuel, and coal.  We could have purchased new windows, siding, appliances and everything to fit out a bath.  We especially enjoyed the campers and tents, one big enough for a multi-generation family, complete with private rooms and living areas. The banks even had venues where you could take out a home, car or farm loan!  The folks hawking their wares seemed to realize we weren't locals and spared us their sales pitches.

The midway, with games of chance, farm machinery, cars, every sort of item you never thought of needing, oh, and food.

Menu for The Buffalo Farm; not bison but Water Buffalo. 
Always interested in what the locals eat, the BBQ caught our attention.  Turns out their buffalo isn't the American Bison, but an Asian Water Buffalo!  They also served Aberdeen Angus Steak.  It all smelled good, but we had just finished breakfast, so walked on by.  Other options were fish and chips, all sorts of meats on a roll and pasties.  Of course, there was the tea and cakes, special coffees and ice cream!  The beer tents served not only beer, but a nice selection of ales and stouts, as well as whisky; just a wee dram.

British wool and what it is worth in 2015; from the British Wool Marketing Board.
We didn't make it to the sheep barns, but did visit a tent where they were judging the carved crooks that shepherds carry.  Several women were spinning wool and there was a game of chance where you guessed what wool was from what sheep; we didn't participate.  From reading some of their posters, there is great concern that the government is not supporting sheep as anything but a food product, not as a source of wool, with a centuries old tradition of weaving.  I don't know what the outcome will be, but this government seems to be not supporting anything that isn't "modern" and makes lots of money for someone involved.

Judging the Clydesdale horses.
One of the buildings had the garden and flower competitions.  The vegetables, except for the cold weather crops, didn't look too good.  This is the year everyone we have spoken to, has complained about not having a real summer; too cold and wet.  It really showed in this competition.  There were some lovely flowers, though, not the sun loving ones.
How ever does he see through that hair?

The chickens were most interesting.  Some we had only seen in pictures, but now here they were in all their feathered glory!  They even had competition for the most perfect egg.  We also saw displays of rabbits and guinea pigs.  One of the rooster kept crowing and crowing.  When we got to his cage, it was obvious why; he'd won Best in Show!  Now that's something to crow about!

This guy has the same problem, only with feathers!

I've never seen such a skinny, long legged chicken. His top feathers looked as if they had been combed back to show his forehead.  Do chickens have foreheads?
Back outside, the competitions continued with the Best in Show for matched pairs of cattle.  The pairs had already won in their breed, but now competed against each other.  There was a bit of excitement, as one of the cows broke loose from her handler and tried to escape the ring.  The only problem with this, the ring was only a roped off area, not fenced.  Disaster was averted when she ran into a metal gate, was caught and returned to the judging area.

This pair was in the competition for best male and female of a breed.
We spent quite a bit of time watching the pulled carriage competition. All were driven by women, with two having their grooms ride with them and the Clydesdale groom waiting at the judging area. While one of the smaller horse and driver really seemed to be more in control, the Clydesdale was definitely more of a showoff!  Turned out they were competing in different categories, because of where the groom was, so both of them won a first.

Clydesdale showing off his style!
We never could decide on what to eat at the fair, so after we walked home, Bill went to the local Chippy (which is just down the street) and picked up fish and chips.  Good choice!
Not sure what it was used for, but it is big and red, and the little boy was very interested.

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