26 June 1998


The Royal Cornwall Show

got off to a bright and

breezy start as Tessa Gates

found when she joined the

crowds at Wadebridge

THE first day of the Royal Cornwall Show was blessed with ideal weather – sunshine and a light breeze – perfect for showgoers both two and four-legged.

In the countryside area, keeping both feet on the ground was harder for some than others as boys and young men got to grips demonstrating Cornish wrestling.

This ancient sport was introduced by the Celts. The wrestlers wear a loose jacket and if a wrestler uses this properly he can control his opponent. Moves are made from a standing position and the style is more speed and skill rather than grunt and groan and does not call for huge physiques. Bouts used to go on until someone scored a back – that is a throw where three or four pins (shoulders and hips) hit the ground simultaneously, but now they are timed and scored on points although a back still brings a win.

Many a Cornish wrestler has come from farming stock and that holds true today. The many branches of the Hawkey family have produced some good combatants and four Hawkeys were demonstrating at the show including Shaun Hawkey, 16, of Penpont, Amble, and James Hawkey, 15, of Great Skewers Farm, St Wenn, who both intend to make their future careers in agriculture. The teenagers gave a skilled performance although this is their first season in training.

Chairman of the Cornish Wrestling Association is retired farmer Edwin Thomas and he explained the role of the sticklers, three of whom score and referee each match. The men carry sticks cut from Cornish woods and these used to be used for crowd control in the days when Cornish wrestling was a big money game. A prize of £1000 was put up in 1667 and betting on matches was huge.

Today there are around 50 or 60 people active in the sport and there are lots of tournaments held during August, including the heavyweight championship at St Stephens on Aug 6.

Skills of a different sort were to be found in the forestry section where chainsaw sculpture and axe racing brought new dimensions to chopping wood. Much more intricate carving was being demonstrated by Tim Wade and his Slovakian guests. Tim, who makes furniture and manages 60ha (150 acres) of forest in Wales, is a regular visitor to the ELRO craft festival in Slovakia and he has arranged exchange visits for craftsmen. "There is a strong link between Cornwall and Slovakia through our Celtic roots," says Tim.

&#42 Folk art taught

This year the headmistress, two teachers and two students from a school that teaches folk art alongside the more formal curriculum joined him at the show. "The school is in a very rural area in the Spis region and the standard of work is very high," says Tim, adding that the student carvers will work alongside him all summer.

The five drove the 1500 miles from Slovakia in an old Skoda but judging from their smiles and enthusiasm at meeting showgoers, they felt the trip was worthwhile.

Ken Gilmore was on home ground at the Royal Cornwall, one of 25 shows a year he attends selling his honey cosmetics. Dressed to colour co-ordinate with the ingredients and packaging of his Cornish Beauty Care products, Ken offers everyone passing his stand the chance to try his handcream. Like all the products in the range, this contains honey from the 40 hives he keeps in the flower-rich countryside of West Penwith.

"We have been doing this for 30 years and we make everything ourselves. We got our first recipes for the products from old bee books and started with hand and face cream," says Ken, who runs the business with his wife Sally and two daughters.

Ken reckons to sell to one person in 20 that passes his stand and has a thriving mail order business (01736-364121) with customers all over the world. He will happily give FARMERS WEEKLY readers a 10% discount on purchases.

Left: Chain saw art was featured in the forestry section.

Above: Ken Gilmore and his wife Sally have been making and selling their honey-based beauty products for 30 years and reckon to sell to one in 20 visitors who pass their stand.

Right: Stickler David Henwood keeps a close eye on moves made by Cornish wrestlers Shaun Hawkey and James Hawkey.

Since the Marriage Act 1994 came into force couples have been able to marry in some unusual places, but not usually several times a day for three days running.

However there was no backing out for Stuart and Demelza Penberthy who tied the knot regularly in mock ceremonies at the show to promote Cornwall Registration Services. Resplendent in full wedding attire, complete with bridesmaid and cake, the couple still had to compete for attention in the local authoritys tent where a motley crew of pirates proved to be the Fostering Development team, in disguise.

Country and seaside themes dominate the objects hand painted by Pam Willis and sold at the show by her sister Val (pictured). The Dingley Dell items are only sold at shows and will next be on display at the Royal Welsh Show.

Above: The Romans used a smoking torch of aromatic wood and over the centuries crushed herbs have been burnt in pots to purify the air. The Victorians made the whole thing decorative by creating pastille burners and Keith Dinham and his colleagues at Piskey Led, Redruth, have revived the idea. Cornish engine houses, woodburning stoves, cottages, oast houses and more, smoke gently when a pastille – made from very fine sawdust, aerated and bound with organic glue – is burnt inside it.

Left: Hot dogs Shambles and Charlie, got a cool look with these hats bought at the show by owners Mrs Dixon (left) and Mrs OHara. Magic and Joy and had to make do with a cuddle instead.

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