A fantastic, fun-filled couple of days were enjoyed by thousands at the Royal Welsh Smallholding and Countryside Festival in Llanelwedd last weekend.
The two-day event was a celebration of rural life, showcasing the real diversity of the Welsh countryside, and proved to be a great day out for young families, smallholders, and anyone with a love for the great outdoors.
With opportunities to benefit from a wide variety of information at the Smallholder’s Centre, smallholding farmers were able to learn about all sorts of interesting activities, including talks on getting started with their farming journey, beekeeping, and goat milk demonstrations. There was a range of stalls to enjoy and things to see, from Shepards Huts to Bearded Dragons!
Farming Connect Horticulture took over the Members Centre for the Growers Market, giving growers the opportunity to showcase and sell their products over the two days.
The Smallholding and Countryside Festival is always filled with exciting entertainment, and this year was no exception. From woodchopping and forestry competitions, to the Medieval Re-enactment Camp, there was a wealth of different rural crafts on display. The Country Life Area was bustling with have-a-go activities, such as the children’s cycling course, circus skills from the Panic Family Circus, and the Glamorgan Novelty Dog Show with the opportunity to bring your own dog to take part! The Premier Open Dog Show was also held in the Country Life Area, where we saw hundreds of dogs competing to qualify for Crufts 2024.
Attracting competitors and smallholders from near and far, the livestock and equine competitions had an excellent line-up of animals in all sections, and even Radio Cymru star Ifan Jones Evans was on our sheep judging panel. This year several new equine classes were added, the main being the Rising Star qualifiers for the 2023 London International Horse Show. The Society also launched brand new Home-Produced classes with the help of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society (WPCS). These classes proved to be a family favourite with only family members able to participate.
For many, the Festival is an introduction to the showing world, and a first step up the ladder to exhibiting at larger events. It’s a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the more traditional, rare, and native breeds and for the public to appreciate all the various breeds from across the UK.
Geraint James, the Honorary Festival Director commented on the success of the first RWAS event of 2023: “We have had a fantastic few days at the Smallholding and Countryside Festival, everyone was excited to be back in Llanelwedd to kick-start the show season. The Festival was the first event after the post-Covid uncertainty of last year, so it was great to see it back in full swing, with visitors feeling confident to attend events once again.
“We were blessed with excellent weather throughout the weekend, which contributed to the positive, feel-good atmosphere around the Showground.”
After last years success, the Wool Zone returned, showcasing the versatility and fabulous creations made from wool with various displays and tradestands. The wool handling and blade shearing competitions attracted many spectators who enjoyed watching the competitors battle it out in the novice, intermediate and open competitions.
The Festival Display ring was jam-packed with entertainment throughout the two days.
Crowds gathered to watch the Show Jumping competitions, the Steve Colley Motorbike Stunt Show, and the MAD Aerial Bikes. The Little Nippers Display performed their comical tricks, along with a host of other entertainment, including the spectacular vintage display of the Welsh Festival of Land Rovers.
No Royal Welsh event would be complete without its offering of food and drink and this year’s Festival didn’t disappoint. As well as the Food Hall which hosts producers showcasing the very best produce from Wales, the popular Street Food Area was bustling throughout the weekend with people taking a moment to relax and enjoy an ice cream in the sunshine.
Following Dr Fed Slater’s announcement to retire as Chair of the Festival committee, and as a former Director of the event, Geraint James paid tribute to his unstinting devotion and commitment to the development of the Festival over the years and to his longstanding association with the Society’s Horticultural Section since the mid-1970s.
The Society wishes him a long, happy, and healthy retirement.
Looking ahead to the future, RWAS Chief Executive, Aled Rhys Jones said, “What an incredible couple of days we’ve had here at the Smallholding and Countryside Festival. The weather has been glorious, the atmosphere has been fantastic. A huge amount of people, families from across Wales and beyond have come here to enjoy the animals, the food, and the entertainment.
“It’s been a cracking weekend here at the showground. But now it’s time to look forward, the countdown begins…just nine weeks until The Royal Welsh Show!”
The weekend’s top results:
Supreme Champion – North County Cheviot Sheep – Messers Meakins & Sloyan (Cat no – 1771)
Reserve Supreme Champion – Pure Continental Breed – Ben Baker (Cat no – 1646)
Sheep Group of Three
Supreme Champion – Southdown Sheep – Gruff & Lynda Richards (Cat no – 1587)
Reserve Supreme Champion – Kerry Hill – Old School Kerry Hills – (Cat no – 1382)
Supreme Champion – - Gloucester Old Spot - Sharon Barnfield (Cat no – 2036)
Reserve Supreme Champion – Durock - AJ Walton (Cat no – 2014)
Supreme Champion – T Rogers (Cat no – 3034)
Dairy Goat Day 1
Champion - Nick Parr (Cat no – 7206)
Pygmy Goat Breed Champion
Champion – Tracy Carter (Cat no – 3134)
Pygmy Goat Pet Champion
Champion – P.M. Keates (Cat no – 3101)
Champion – Jo Jennings (Cat no – 3346)
Supreme Champion – Beef Shorthorn – Mary Cormack (no – 4046)
Reserve Supreme Champion – Longhorn - Bernard and Margaret Llewellyn (Cat no – 4031)
Best Sheep Breed Tradestand Award
Winner – Rhian Rochford – Black Welsh Mountain Sheep – (Cat no - 1040)
Best Exhibitor Cattle Line Award
Winner – Leslie Cook – Traditional Hereford
Veteran Horse Society Area Qualifier 2023
S. 1012 In-hand Championship
Champion - Holly Harford (5080)
S. 1017 Ridden Championship
Champion - Wendy Harries (5095)
CHAPS Welsh Regional Show
S.1023 In-Hand Championship
Champion – Michelle Picford (5126)
S.1033 Ridden Championship
Champion - Sophia Chambers (5144)
S.1034 Armature/ Home-produced Ridden/In-Hand Supreme In-Hand Championship
Champion - Michelle Picford (5126)
Ridden and Novice Section – Ponies
S. 1045 Championship
Champion - Emma Edwards with Stoak Teleri
Reserve - Chloe Parker with Whalley Red Kite
Heavy Horses/Shires & Foreign/World/Rare Breeds
S. 1050 Championship
Champion – Siedi Shires with Milnerfield Jack
Reserve – Alexandra Mason with Jacktons Fanta
Traditional Gypsy Cobs
S.1054 Championship – Quest for a Star (Traditional)
Champion - Allana Green (5246)
S.1058 Championship – Go for Glory (Part Bred)
Champion - Allana Green (5251)
British Miniature Horse Society
S. 1065 Championship
Champion - Joanna Davies with Ribbons Grafftit Smoking Legacy
Reserve - Charlotte Leonard with Scotts Easter Boy
Welsh A,B,C,D and Welsh Part Breds
S. 1074 Section A Championship
Champion - Peter Jones (5270)
S. 1083 Section B Championship
Champion - Susan Harries (5309)
S. 1092 Section C Championship
Champion - R. J Davies (5335
S. 1107 Section Welsh Part Breds Championship
Champion - Eirian Wyn Williams (5379)
S. 1108 Overall Welsh In-Hand Championship
Champion - Peter Jones (5270)
S. 1118 Championship
Champion - Anna Stevens with Toby of Catchpool
Reserve - Dawn Hawker with Hawkerbays Empress
S. 1129 Junior Championship
Champion - Laura Rutter with Crossfoot Pippin
Reserve - Hayley Smith with Apache Blue Eye
S. 1130 Senior Championship
Champion - Grace Hampton with Rock Heart
Reserve - Jessica Noonan with Fronarth Gustav
S. 1154 In-Hand Championship
Champion - Allana Green with Greenview Sheer Imagination
Reserve - Happy Hounds & horses with Nos Da Cariad
S. 1157 Ridden Championship
Champion - Lynsday John with Ainninn Gealach
Reserve - Ceri Simpson with Happenchance Grey Diamond
Mountain & Moorland
S. 1162 Championship (Excluding Welsh Breeds and Shetlands)
Champion - Lucinda Dargavel with Strathmore Majestic
Reserve - Dafydd Thomas with Simones Firecracker
Open Intermediate Championship
S. 1165 Championship
Champion - Megan Williams (5647)
Retrained Racehorse Championship
S. 1168 Retrained Racehorse Championship
Champion - Jayne Brace with Royal Craftsman
Reserve - Alice Rees with Sawago
S. 1171 Ridden Championship
Champion (and Reserve) - Lauren Cooper with BA Aniswa
S.1176 In-Hand Championship
Champion – Rhordi Jones with Eliana
Reserve – Rhodri Jones with Song of Nyla
S. 1182 Side Saddle Championship
Champion - Charlotte Rees with Tooreeny Lad
Reserve - Rachael Forkings with Otto Watto
Donkey Breed Society
S. 1195 Donkey Championship
Champion - Hazel James with Freystrop Lily May
Reserve - Hazel James with Freystrop Crystablelle
S. 1196 Best Local Donkey
Champion - Sarah Hodges with Jack
Equine Supreme Championship
S. 2000 Championship
Champion - Ribert Scrine with Cumano Cassini
Reserve - Allana Green with Greenview Sheer Imagination