FARMER David Hicks won the top prize in the cattle classes at this year’s rain-drenched Henley Show — but was not there to see it.
He was left at home looking after the family farm in Wyfold while his wife Sam, daughter Georgina and son James took eight cattle to show.
The animals included Bacardi, an 18-month old, 650kg Limousin blue heifer, who was crowned supreme beef champion.
It is the second year running that the family from Kingwood Farm has won the award after Priceless, an 18-month-old Limousin cross, took the title a year ago.
The Hickses were among thousands of people who attended the 125th anniversary show at the Greenlands Farm showground, near Hambleden.
The attendance was one of lowest in years due to the terrible weather but organisers praised exhibitiors and visitors for sticking it out.
Mr Hicks said the wet weather made preparing the cattle for the judges a “nightmare”.
He said: “Turning them out on Saturday was not the easiest but it’s our local show so we have got to do our bit to support it.”
Mr Hicks, who bought Barcardi from a farmer in Northamptonshire in October, said: “We did not think a commercial champion would win the overall category but she had that spark about her, she had this presence and looked the part. She’s the perfect animal.”
His daughter said: “We were surprised Bacardi won the overall award because there are all sorts of breeds and then it’s down to the judges’ opinion. Some judges like muscle, others might not.
“When she wins beef champion it’s because she has got the best meat. I’ve been giving her lots of feed. She is well-shaped and I think that’s one of the main things that helped her win.”
Visitors to the show, which is organised by the Henley and District Agricultural Association, wore raincoats and Wellingtons and used umbrellas to stay dry in the muddy showground.
Attractions included livestock classes for cattle, sheep, poultry and heavy horses as well as dozens of classes for produce and horticulture.
There was also a tractor parade with both old and modern machines and the Kimblewick Hunt, which entered the show ring with scores of hounds which visitors were encouraged to meet, a ferret racing, a dog show, showjumping and performances by Richard Savory’s Sheep Show and the Hurst Morris People, a falconry display and working dog demonstrations while scores of classic cars and vintage tractors were on display.
Show president Richard Ovey, of the Hernes estate, said: “It was slightly damp but people turned out anyway.
“One person has emailed me to say he thought it was a perfectly good show and that the rain did not get through his mackintosh.”
Andrew Ingram, chairman of the association, said the wet weather meant the food and trade stands were very busy.
He said: “The weather was regrettable — I’ve been involved with the show for 30 years and I’ve never known it to rain from the beginning to end. I was sorry for everyone involved but these things happen and we are realistic. A lot of them are farmers and we know you get good and bad days.
“I want to congratulate all the members of the committee. They are all volunteers, apart from two people, who do not charge for their time and often pay for bits out of their own pocket. It’s a very fine one-day show and I am pleased to be associated with it.”
For the full and more pictures, see this week's Henley Standard.