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The Royal Highland Show (Scotland)

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Scotland's premier agricultural Show with livestock and competitions, trade exhibitions, entertainment and of course something fun for children.

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      09.01.2009 18:00
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      If you are in Scotland at this time... GO ! ! !

      The Royal Highland Show is possibly the highlight of my year. The first time I went was 17 years ago where I was -3 months old (my mum was carrying me!) Since then I have been there every single year of my life.
      Now I am a Young Farmer and going to the dances there.
      Here is my story and experience of the Royal Highland Show over the last 17 years...

      ===What Is It?===
      The Royal Highland Show is the Agricultural event of the year in Scotland. Now it is not just for us farmers, no it is for everyone. It has roughly 150,000 visitors every year. It is held once a year roughly around the 20-4th of June over 4 days, usually a Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It hosts the biggest and most important farming competitions for Horses (Show Jumping, Dressage and Turn Out), Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Pigs, Chickens, Honey, Milk, Cheese, Ice-Cream and much more.
      There are hundreds of stall holders from Tractors, Crafts, Food everything farming related. And so many different events for every age ranging from the fast and furious to the charming and cute.

      ===Why Go?===
      I have proudly gone every year as my parents always do business there. As farmers, it is a great way to see Prize animals and have a blether about tractors. Also it is advertised in all the farming magazines like the Scottish Farmer and Farmers Weekly. So every farmer in Scotland and Northern England is expected to go.
      Visitors however who don't have any farming knowledge may just want to see what farming life is like. My best friend who knows nothing about farming went just to see the horses as she was fascinated by them Show Jumping and Dressage.
      Some go to get the deals, a lot of stalls do special show discounts on there items to sell. There are also tasters for food and wines and LOTS of freebies from numerous stalls.
      You can go for experiences like milking a cow, making cheese or even sitting in an army tank. You can climb 40ft wooden poles if you are brave enough or try your hand at tractor handling. It does vary every year but the most common reason is just to have a taste at the world of farming and natural food production.

      ===Joining===
      To go to the Highland Show you don't have to join but it is an option for a lot of people. Our family have been been members since the 1930's so we just carry on the tradition. A membership to the show entitles you into all 4 days for using your tickets so you don't have to pay at the door and in theory miss the queues. You get access to the Members tent and restraunt, The McRoberts, which gives you an excellent view over the main ring. And you get special discounts for stalls and a free show guide. I would say it was worth having a membership but it is expensive and really only for people who plan to go most of the days. (see website below for more details)

      ===Getting There===
      The Highland Show is in the Ingliston Showground next to the Edinburgh Airport. I can guarentee when you look up at the sky when you are at the show you will a plane taking off or landing. It is on the outskirts of Edinburgh and is sign posted pretty far away, no matter if your coming from the north or south. You don't have to go through Edinburgh at all to get there

      ===Parking===
      You've followed the signs and your there. Now you need to find parking which can be difficult. If you are a member or competitor you are given a colored card to put on your dashboard. This allows you to get certain parking closer to the show ground. We were red so followed the signs to get there and got parked and were away. Non-members have to go pretty far and park using the Airport car parks. We once parked right next to the runway which was really cool as we got to get really close to the planes, although it was very loud. Also you have to pay £5 to park but you are supposed to get fairly secure parking and unlimited time you keep your car there (so overnight etc)

      ===Getting In And Finding Your Way===
      When you get there and your all parked you head towards one of the gates (situated on North, South, East and West) of show ground. You reach there and have to pay to get in (unless competitor or member). Under 16's get in free, adults cost £15 and concessions (students, OAP's etc) are £10. This all goes into running the highland show as it is a charity organisation. I would recommend if, its your first time to purchase a map, or if you have been at the show but your memory is a not brilliant, to purchase a map. These can be bought in many places around the showground so I would say to invest in one as it is a little easy to get lost.
      You can also buy a programme with a list of competitors and event times. This ranges from horses to the HIghland Games. This is handy if you want to see something specific like Sheep or Army or Craft making.

      ===Different Areas===
      There are different areas of different activities and stalls.
      THE COUNTRYSIDE AREA
      My favourite part of the show. This is the area dedicated to rural skillls and countryside living. There are many stalls that sell shooting, angling, farming and dairy products. There is a huge pond in the middle were you can try your hand at fly fishing which I tried and it was great fun. Anyone can have a go and its free. Next to that is a very unique show, a dog rounding up specially trainned geese. This was brilliant fun and was very funny.
      You can also have a go at shooting using a computer simulation. This is good fun for kids (and big kids) and there is a prize as well. You can also have a look at prize Dairy products and honey, and have a chat with the people who create and sell the products as a business. Really interesting if you don't have a great knowledge of the countryside. And good fun.

      TRACTOR/CAR/MACHINERY AREA
      Where a majority of male visitors stay for a duration of the show. This is the biggest part of the show (area wise) and takes quite a while to get around. A lot of dealers are there and love to give out freebies. I came home last year with a keyring with every car manufacturer in the world (near enough) and love to have a chat about the lastest cars and tractors. You can also sit in them and have a go on the simulators. The army are also in the section with army tanks and a jet. You can sit in them and get your photo taken and get to chat with the soldiers which is good fun. Every lads dream to sit and have their photo taken in a super car? Well you can get that done for free and take away lots of free goodies. Very good fun!

      FOOD HALL
      A huge hall filled with the best produce Scotland can provide. What could be better. What I love about the hall is there are so many yummy freebies. When you enter you can smell the different flavours of burgers, chocolate, cheese and haggis. I ended up buying beautiful slabs of tablet, a haggis and lots of different little sweeties. There is an educational part in the centre to promote healthy eating and food hygiene for everyone. There is a childrens part where they can get free stuff like thermometers, stickers and vouchers for fruit and veg. Great fun. But my highlight is a 4ft chocolate fountain which I dreamed of sticking my head under, but I just got strawberries covered in the finest chocolate... YUM!!!

      SHOPPING HALL/TENTS
      There are numerous shopping halls and marqees but the main one is the huge hall next door to the Food hall. This is filled with stalls from all over the world. I bought a hat from an Austraillian company which were very charming. Then clothes from a Scottish company. And crafts from Southern England. Everything is here for young and old. It is not in any order however so can be a little complicated to go through. But looking at all the crafts, clothes and incredible pieces of art are amazing to look at. There is never not anything surprising in the Shopping Halls.

      MAIN ARENA
      This is were a lot of professionals come and show off what they can do. At first glance you may see animals being shown and presented with huge rosettes or horses doing dangerous show jumping. This is the midpoint of the show so it always has something special on in the centre. It has a commentator to keep you up to date and explains whats happening so you don't get lost. World champions can been seen in the ring so if you want to see the best I would check it out as it is very good entertainment.

      YOUNG FARMERS HOUSE
      Have to give this a quick mention as as i'm a Young Farmer it is very special. This is were people can come in and get a taste of what Young Farmers do and the sort of fun and skills we have and learn. I hang out there at least half a day, catching up with everyone which is good fun.

      SHOPPING HALL/TENTS
      There are numerous shopping halls and marqees but the main one is the huge hall next door to the Food hall. This is filled with stalls from all over the world. I bought a hat from an Austraillian company which were very charming. Then clothes from a Scottish company. And crafts from Southern England. Everything is here for young and old. It is not in any order however so can be a little complicated to go through. But looking at all the crafts, clothes and incredible pieces of art are amazing to look at. There is never not anything surprising in the Shopping Halls.

      ===Family Friendly===
      The show revolves around families which is the great thing. What ever age you are 9 or 90 there is something for you. If you have young children then there are so many different activities at hundreds of stalls. It could be making flour, milking a cow or earning prizes for drawing etc. If your a teenager like me then you'll want to go and wander, looking at the rugby teams etc ;). Adults there is so much to do and shopping, looking around and experiences. And OAP's there are special places to have tea and coffee and have a look around.

      ===Food===
      Food is a huge part of the Highland Show and always has been. All the major supermarkets are there to promote their local produce and give out lots of freebies. A lot of them also give cooking demos to promote healthy eating which are good to watch. There are food vans everywhere ranging from fresh Aberdeen Angus burgers to ostrich burgers. Or how about porriage? Every sort of food is avaliable which is brilliant. Crepes, Pizzas, Salads, Chips and so much more. A lot of the show is about Healthy Eating and local produce and usually give out discounts on healthier food. It is great to have a wide selection suitable for everyone. I could have happily lived there!

      ===Advantages===
      Well everything I have mentioned is to me an advantage. Heres some extra advantages I may have not mentioned. I did mention freebies, but honestly the amount they give away is huge. I came home from one day with bags from Aldi, Sainsburys, Scotch Beef, Ford, The Scotsman, Scottish Farmer and many more. You will never need to buy a pen as they are basically thrown at you. Brilliant!
      There are lots of people there so you will be bound to see someone you know. I met lots of family I hadn't seen in ages which was good. But with lots of people there, especially on the Saturday there is a great chance of seeing someone you know!
      And of course the fantastic educational day out. I always learn something new at the show. Like this year I learned about Flower arranging. It was great fun! But there are so many different rural crafts you will never be bored. Fantastic!

      ===Disadvantages===
      The show is a huge area and can take hours to see everything. So if you don't really like walking then you may find it a bit of a struggle. They do have a service were you can loan a we buggy for the day but it can be hard to stop as there are a lot of people to navigate through.
      The cost is also quite expensive. There is a lot of free stuff but you do need to spend money on food for the day, parking and getting in. Even though it is a good day out it is costly for the one day.

      ===Overall===
      I have a lot of connections with the show, so I can't really show an outside perspective. But overall no matter if its your first or 20th time at the show, it always changes (and usually for the better) It is truly a brilliant summer highlight which you can talk about all year long.
      It is so much fun and with lots of shops, young farmers and argriculture. What more could a country girl want?

      © scotlandizdabest (2009) on Dooyoo.co.uk!

      Hope to see you all there next year. Or the English, Welsh or Irish versions!

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