North Uist Annual Show
In any rural community the major event of the summer has to be the agricultural or local garden show, although here this maybe disputed by the islands’ highland gatherings (games). Whether it is a grand county event or the local village fete being asked to be a judge can either be viewed as a privilege or being offered a poison chalice. In the outer isles judges are usually appointed from other islands so if necessary they can leave early to catch the ferry home! However, when we were asked to judge the gardens, flowers and vegetables at the North Uist Agricultural Society Annual Show I could not have been more pleased than if I’d been asked to be a judge at Chelsea.
As you can imagine, the island shows have their own special character – think English village fete without the tombola and Morris dancing but with assorted livestock (Hebridean sheep to guinea pigs) and vintage tractors. The arrival of a bouncy castle and lamb burgers has not destroyed the character of the event and a perusal of the show schedule still includes such gems as “Shepherd’s crook (horn)”, “Stockings (knicker) heavy knit”, “Clootie dumpling” and “Ladies corsage”.
Vegetable growing and gardening in general is growing in popularity here, but in this part of the world it is not a pursuit for the faint hearted – although a wimpish island crofter or fisherman is impossible to imagine. The number, quality and diversity of entries for the flower and vegetable classes were impressive. We had some animated discussions over the first and second prizes and when the identity of the winners were revealed it was a relief to see that they were evenly spread among the competitors. So it was not necessary to make a hasty retreat and we’ve not be declared persona non grata in North Uist and Berneray as far as I am aware. So to everyone involved in the show thank you for a great day out!