Identity of top
judge a closely
and educational opportunities
– show days offer the lot.
They are also good
opportunities to catch up
with old friends and make
new ones. The Royal Manx
Agricultural Show is a good
example. Ann Rogers
reports from this island
event where she was
made to feel very welcome
THE identity of the judge who will award the supreme championship is one of the Royal Manx Agriculture Shows best kept secrets.
It is the Royal Manx Agricultural Societys president who makes the choice. "And only the judge, my wife and I know who it is," said 1998 president Denis Duggan, on the first day of the show.
While there is much guessing at who this person will be, it is not until he or she is about to step forward to make his selection that their identity is revealed. The secrecy adds excitement to the grand parade when, late on the second day, all first and second prize-winning stock appear in the main ring.
Section winners stay on as contenders for the supreme championship and it is then that the judge is named. Deniss choice was Kevin Kinrade from Bride. He is one of the few producers putting three species of livestock into the abattoir, the strong crowd around the ring was told.
Before him ranged the top horses from both the light and heavy sections, and the best beef and dairy cattle and sheep. Only the pigs were not in with a chance for the championship.
What would Kevin choose? There was much speculation as he drew favoured beasts forward and pondered.
His final choice was Ballaglonney Ltds Texel shearling ram. "A quality animal right through. This is what todays market is all about," he declared.
Roger Chadwicks Limousin heifer Brontemoor Lacey was first reserve, and second reserve was John and Eleanor Chadwicks Blonde dAquitaine heifer Kinaston Mureace. The third reserve came from the dairy section and was Andrew and Sue Sanderss Holstein Friesian cow Sandisfarne Sumptious Blackberry.
Wednesday and Thursday are the traditional Royal Manx Show days but this year, for the first time in its 140-year history, the gates opened on a Friday and Saturday instead.
The change was made to boost attendance and would appear to have achieved its aim. Attendance was down on Friday but up on Saturday, a second dampish day.
The other exception to the Wednesday-Thursday tradition was made in 1989 when the Queen attended while on a visit to the island. Though closely surrounded by all four countries of the UK, the Isle of Man is not part of it. When the Queen visits she comes as Lord of Mann.
The island is not in the EU either. "We are an associate member. We dont pay anything in or get anything out," explains Denis, who is a director of a 162ha (400-acre) farming company, RWB Farms Ltd, which has an 80-cow dairy herd and 81ha (200 acres) or cereals.
"We dont have quotas. But in a sense price is our quota. We dont receive the same for our milk as they do in England," he says, adding that imports like feed and exports like cheese carry an extra £30/t in transport costs. "And what really sets our milk price is the cheese market."
Almost £6m has been spent on refurbishing the islands creamery and bringing it up to EU standards. The island also has a new meat plant. Only stores are sold at auction. All finished animals go through the central abattoir but the islands farmers face the same export restrictions as UK farmers.
When tourism was the principal industry Isle of Man, farming was geared to producing milk, meat and vegetables for summer visitors. Now it has lost its premier position to finance. Visitor numbers are very much reduced and farm produce has to be exported.
Paula Creer and her son Daniel (10) with the Texel ram which won shows supreme championship, and (L to R) supreme championship judge Kevin Kinrade, Lieutenant-Governor Sir Timothy Daunt, who presented the awards, and RMAS president Denis Duggan.