FARMER David Hicks won the top prize in the cattle classes at this year’s rain-drenched Henley
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 Barcardi, 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.
As in recent previous years, the giant vegetables grown by Tim Saint interested many visitors.
Mr Saint, 35, from Playhatch, took home four trophies with his exhibits, which included a 97lb marrow, the second heaviest he has ever grown, a 435lb pumpkin, a 19lb beetroot, a 2lb tomato and a 75lb cabbage.
He said: “I always enjoy the show. I like it when people can’t believe it, especially the young children who find it amazing. It’s good to make people happy.
“I am happy to win again but the fun part of growing giant veg is always trying to get them to grow a bit bigger. The key is plenty of cow manure, giving them three cans of water and plenty of feeding. I started 17 years ago growing big marrows and pumpkins and I’ve carried on.”
Mr Saint thanked Donna Guile, who organises the produce tent, saying: “She is great and is always keen for me to come back.”
He hopes to win more awards with his produce at the British championships in Malvern later this month.
Other attractions at the show included 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.
There was also 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.
Activities for children included a helter-skelter, carousel, zorbing, swing boats, climbing wall and rodeo bull and the food and farming marquee featured quizzes and an interactive display on how food goes from farm to table.
Henley woodcraftsman Ian Desmond and his assistants Sue James, Samantha Thirlby-Smith and Hannah Carder ran a competition for children to win a full-height ruler, hand-crafted by him in polished beech.
The winner was Meher Vig, six, of Hop Gardens, Henley, who will be presented with the prize by Will Satch, stroke of the Team GB eight that won gold at the Rio Olympics.
Elsewhere, Lee Rapley, nine, from Chalkhouse Green, came second in the coloured fleece class for sheep.
Lee nursed a Manx Loaghtan sheep back to health after it suffered with flystrike.
He said: “I sheared most of the wool off myself.”
His mother Mo Rapley works at the Noblesse Stud in Checkendon, which is run by Renee Snouckaert, who farms Valais Blacknose Sheep, which she imported from Â Holland.
Mrs Snouckaert won the fleece class for white wool and said: “I am delighted.”
Neil Sturman’s dog Riley, a 10-year-old golden retriever, won the veterans’ category in the dog show.
Mr Sturman, from Aston, said: “He has a very happy face. I’ve never entered anything as serious as this but he did win best dog at the Remenham fayre two years ago. Before that the only competition he had won was a fastest Bonio-eating competition!”
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.”
Mr Ingram, who runs the Tree Barn in Christmas Common, said it was important to teach young people about farming.
He said: “We are a charity and part of that is educating people about farming locally.
“The food and farming tent, which is educational, is very, very good. It was very well attended when I went in there.”
• The association’s next event is the annual ploughing match, which will be held at Frizers Farm in Sonning Eye on Sunday, October 2. There will also be ferret racing, terrier racing, trailer rides, trade stands, craft stands and rides for children. For tickets, visit www.thehenleyshow.co.uk