Champion ploughmen and women from all over Great Britain will be making their way to Somerset this autumn when the county will host this year’s British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival. This unique two-day event will take place on land at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October.
The highlight of the country’s ploughing calendar, the event is one of the few agricultural shows which is held in a different part of Britain each year and the event is returning to Somerset courtesy of landowner Ken Coles and family who have provided over 200 acres of their prime arable farmland just north of the town of Taunton.
Around 250 ploughmen and women will take part, including past World and European champions. At stake are the British National Ploughing Championship titles and the selection to represent England in World and European ploughing competitions next year, with one ultimate winner taking the title of Supreme Champion.
It’s not just about ploughing, though over the two days visitors will see competitions for many different styles, from the more modern reversible and conventional ploughing through to many types of vintage tractors and the graceful and magnificent horse ploughing of years gone by. Alongside the competitions there will be demonstrations of giant steam engines, vintage and rural craft exhibits with the provisional themes ‘Welcome to Somerset’ and ‘Horse to Horse Power’, trade stands, shopping stalls and country crafts.
The Society of Ploughmen, who are organising the event, are expecting an exceptional crowd over the two days as the Championships always attract a varied mix of spectators – from farmers with a love of the land and agricultural machinery, vintage tractor enthusiasts, people with a love of horses, steam enthusiasts and those with a general interest in the countryside. It also gives a unique opportunity for families to see how our farming heritage has changed over the past 300 years.
Chief Executive of the Society of Ploughmen, Sue Frith, said, “The interest and attention we have at the moment is fantastic after holding the World Ploughing Contest in England last year. The support we have in the south-west of the country is especially good and clearly the decision to bring the Championships back to Somerset is a good one.” She added, “You don’t have to be interested in ploughing as there will be something for everyone at the event, but it is wonderful to see what these highly skilled competitors can do. It’s important we ensure these skills are kept alive as even with all the changes in agriculture, they still play an important part in the food chain as good ploughing will prepare the land well for better crops to be grown”.
There will be a wide selection of trade stands – from agricultural trade stands ranging from tractors and machinery to insurance through to the smaller shopping stalls with anything from countrywear to confectionery. Sponsorship opportunities are available for both market leaders and small companies with main sponsors this year being Bridgestone/Firestone and Bridgwater Agricultural Society.
Further information can be found on www.ploughmen.co.uk or from the Society of Ploughmen on 01302 852469 and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
PHOTO taken at Bishops Lydeard for Exmoor Magazine by Andrew Hobbs