A record breaking 190,000 visitors flocked to the Royal Highland Show over the last four days (22-25 June) demonstrating once again the strength and enduring appeal of Scotland’s iconic celebration of farming, food and rural life.
Organised by the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland, the award-winning event contributes an estimated £50 million to the Scottish economy.
Over £8 million is estimated to have been spent on shopping at the event, which features machinery, gardening equipment, clothing, food, art, crafts and homewares.
Underpinning the importance of the Show on a political level, the event attracted elected heavyweights including Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, The Scottish Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Ruth Davidson, Leader of the Conservative party in Scotland, George Lyon, Member of the European Parliament and Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
With agriculture at its core, the UK’s biggest celebration of farming, food and rural life saw the highest entries of sheep for over a decade (2000), 1100 cattle and a record breaking 408 heavy horse entries. It also hosted the Aberdeen Angus World Forum, which returned to the UK after 40 years.
The event’s food showcase, Scotland’s Larder Live, featured 120 of the finest food and drink exhibitors from across Scotland and the UK and staged the inaugural Scottish bread championships alongside the national cheese, butter and ice cream championships. Award-winning chefs demonstrating in the cookery theatre included Kilted Chef Craig Wilson, Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters and Edinburgh’s Paul Wedgwood.
The Show was once again a lively place for discussion with the Oxford Farming Conference taking its Oxford Union debate on tour to discuss ‘this house believes UK agriculture will thrive outwith the European Union’. NFUS also unveiled its Change (new Agricultural Policy for Scotland Post-Brexit) discussion document.
With culture very much in evidence at the Show, organisers introduced for the first time its Poet in Residence, which saw rural poet, and the current Poet Laureate of Glasgow, Jim Carruth, recite his rural inspired poetry around the showground. The Show was also the chosen venue for the announcement of Team GB’s Winter Olympic curling team for the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea with farming heritage synonymous with curling with team members combining their curling careers with running their family farms. Hitting the note for an entertaining day out was a packed programme of music including jazz, ceilidh bands, gospel choirs, brass bands and schools from all over Scotland. No fewer than five pipe bands entertained the crowds over the four days.
The Royal Highland Education Trust, the educational arm of RHASS, had a successful Show with over 7160 children visiting on Thursday and Friday. This year also saw the relaunch of the ‘Become a Supporter of RHET’ fundraising drive with money raised helping to increase food literacy amongst school children and enhance the link between producers and consumers of the future.
The Aberdeenshire initiative, which was led by Lord Aberdeen and supported by the Presidential team, showcased the area’s outstanding food and tourism in the “Aberdeenshire Village”, with over 30 businesses offering a wide range of the region’s food and drink, as well as art and crafts.
Commenting on the success of the 177th Show, Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) Chief Executive said:”This year’s Show has been a huge success which is in no small part due to the support we receive from volunteers, exhibitors and the public. It has been an inspiring four days soaking up a great atmosphere and seeing everyone getting so much out of the experience whether it is exhibiting livestock, tucking into great food or exploring new things in the RHET Discovery Centre. Roll on next year!”
Malcolm Buchanan, chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scottish board, said: “This year’s Royal Highland Show has showcased the positive impact Scotland’s agriculture sector makes to the country and given us all a chance to see at first hand the people and businesses who help make our industry such a respected institution. Royal Bank of Scotland has supported the show since 1981 and once again it has proved to be a fantastic spectacle. This year marks our 290th anniversary and we are delighted to have helped make this, the 177th Royal Highland Show, another great success.”