23 November 2001

Difficult search for alternative festive events

PRIMESTOCK shows are the latest casualties of the foot-and-mouth crisis, forcing markets to search for alternatives to fill their festive calendar.

In the run up to Christmas each year, primestock shows enable farmers to show off their best cattle, turkeys, chickens, geese and pigs. But the cancellation of many this year has left a huge gap in farmers social and sales diaries and butchers window displays.

At Bourne, Lincs, primestock society chairman Graham Clay has organised a seasonal competition for traditional Lincolnshire sausages and pork pies instead, to be held at the towns corn exchange on Dec 6.

Mr Clay, an auctioneer at Stamford-based Scorer, Clay and Richardson, says something was needed to replace the Bourne primestock show.

Being held on market day, Mr Clay reckons it will be a superb opportunity for the regions butchers to promote "the exceptional quality" of local food.

After its first seasonal sausage and pie competition, the Bourne Christmas Prize Stock Show society will hold its annual dinner.

Ashford Cattle Show is following a similar theme and using entertainment to replace its cattle show at the beginning of December. On Dec 5 the shows management committee has put together a Christmas buffet for those normally involved in the show at Ashford Market.

Penrith Farmers & Kidds has joined forces with Cumbrian Fellbred to offer an "on the hook" Christmas primestock show. Entries will be judged on Dec 7, and an auction will take place on Dec 10 at Blackpool Abattoir.

The event will be about as close to a primestock show as producers can get this year and will give local butchers and wholesalers the chance to buy top quality local beef and lamb carcasses, says PFK auctioneer Chris Dodds.

"We wanted to hold a Christmas show and sale this year, even though F&M has made a hell of a mess of the supply chain in this area. Weve lost a lot of stock, but there has been a good response from farmers."

It will give butchers a chance to get hold of the best stock in the area to sell over Christmas and support local farmers. Butchers also get a rosette in their window if they buy a prize-winning animal, adds Mr Dodds. &#42