The final preparations are under way for this year’s extra special Border Union Show which has been three years in the planning.
Entries are “tremendous” in the Border Union Agricultural Society’s 200th year and there’s an entertainment line-up to rival any big top.
Society secretary Ron Wilson said: “If ever there was a year to come to the Border Union Show it is this one.
“But we have been quite determined we will have our normal show and we wanted to continue to try and look after and help the people who support us wonderfully, whether it be livestock or trade stands or anything else, have a fantastic show.
“There is a tremendous entry of livestock, including ponies, horses, donkeys, cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs, there’s carriage driving and shepherds’ crooks and the ladies’ industrial section – in all, over 3,000 entries.”
More than 870 sheep are expected and the show will host the Border Leicester National Show on Saturday. “Sheep numbers are similar to last year, which is exceptional after the year we have had, and we’ve got a good entry of Border Leicesters, ” said Ron.
Cattle numbers are up by about 50 on last year.
And this year there is a special one-off interbreed team championship, with three cattle representing each breed in a continental and a native breeds competition.
There will be 10 teams and judge Fred Murray of East Horton, Wooler will be choosing the winners among the four teams in the continental section, while Finlay McGowan, Incheoch, Blairgowrie, is tasked with choosing the winning natives from six teams.
“We’re doing this because it will be a wonderful spectacle and we’ve got a very good commentator in Mike Keeble who is probably the top authority in the country on the history of all the breeds of cattle and sheep. He will explain the different breeds, their attributes and where they fit in in the system,” said Ron.
Beef interbreed judge is pedigree Charolais and Aberdeen Angus breeder Alasdair Houston, of Gretna House Farm, Gretna.
Making the call at the sheep pens will be former society chairman and past chairman of the society’s ram sales, Harry Dodds of Spotsmains, Kelso. Ron said: “Harry has been a fantastic servant to the Border Union for the last 21 years. It’s great that he has the honour of judging the sheep interbreed in the bicentenary year after the service he has given to the society.”
The overall pony judge is Sheila Brooks, Oaklands, Kelso, former Highland Pony Society president and a past chairman of the National Pony Society who has bred Highland ponies successfully for decades. Other entertainment includes the Locheil Marching Drill Team from New Zealand, on their way to the Tattoo in Edinburgh, the Lowland Band, Kelso Pipe Band and the Wooler Junior Steel Band.
The Sheep Show returns for its eighth consecutive year, a hurricane and a spitfire will do a flypast (weather permitting) on Saturday afternoon and the “wheely” feature in the main ring will be the Lings Bolddog Motorcycle stunt team, who return by popular request after their thrilling display three years ago.
There are five extra special events taking place to celebrate the 200th birthday: The History of the Horse pageant, the Story of Wool and the special foodie events are dealt with elsewhere in this review.
A fourth is the four working plots opposite the showground, now reached by a temporary footbridge.
Alongside the winter barley and oilseed rape, show-goers will also find crops such as maize, lupins, linseed, borage and evening primrose, and experts will be on hand at each to explain where they fit into the industry.
The fifth is a huge map of the Tweed, from source at Tweedswell to mouth at Berwick upon Tweed, in twelve panels, measuring five metres long in total with a depth of two and a half metres.
Ron said: “It is the intention to invite any school to use it to research the history of their own area, whether it be woollen mills, the Border Abbeys, the wonderful arable farms in Berwickshire, churches, castles – history, geography, orienteering or good old general knowledge, it covers all.
He added, that at the attraction, “Small ‘ponds’ in trays will be populated with every creepy crawly imaginable and the wonderful local charity Tweedstart has volunteered to explain all the creatures and fish from the pond”