North Uist Show
North Uist 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!

8 thoughts on “Showtime

  1. Phew! Scandals of bribery and corruption are rife around here following last years fete. You were very lucky to escape unscathed! Those cakes look delicious x

    • I was not even offered as much as a groat in an old seed packet, just a dram (it wasna a wee one) with my lunch by the Committee.
      The cakes were scrumptious and Himself has offered to to judge the home baking next year leaving the cabbages to me!

  2. What a charming day! The sheep judging photo is amusing, but I am sure it was serious business.

    • The island annual agricultural shows are a great day out whatever the weather. Judging sheep and cattle is a very serious business and unfortunately as a non-Gaelic speaker I can not listen into the crofters’s banter around the show ring.

  3. Lucky you to be chosen as one of the judges! Especially of those cakes and pies – yum yum!! Thanks for showing us how agricultural fairs are done in The Hebrides!!

    • The islands live in a time warp and many things retain the charm and simplicity of a bygone age. All the celebration and hew-haa on the big island passed us by, no bunting, street parties or sports obsession. Independence for Scotland – these islands have been independent for millenia – we’re ruled by the “wee folk”.

  4. Gardening, Fun, and Drama. This is my kind of event! Looks like a wonderful way to spend the day. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Mario – you would love it – really nice friendly people too!

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