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Shropshire County Show ready for its flock to return

Vintage engines rumbling, horses trotting, the faint baas and moos of the livestock and music filling the air on a warm, summer's day.

The County Show at West Mid Showground, Shrewsbury, is about as gloriously Shropshire as an event can be, and this weekend it will finally be back after a 26-month hiatus.

It may be scaled down this year to comply with Covid-19 restrictions which, frustratingly, will be relaxed just 36 hours after it ends. But organisers don't care and are thrilled to be back, as will be the farmers, exhibitors and visitors who make the trip.

"The people I've been speaking to are very excited about coming," said show chairman Lance Jackson. "They want to get out and get to events. It's one of the first proper events we've held."

There will still be some of Shropshire's finest livestock on display, several trade exhibitors and 120 vintage vehicles including tractors, cars, farm machinery and commercial vehicles.

"All the vehicles date back to the days of farming long gone," added Lance.

More than 20 old tractors will be among a display by Shukers. And the stand will be manned by former staff who worked for the company 60 years ago – including workshops managers, telephonists and a delivery man. Richard Sherratt, a manager at one of the five Shropshire depots Shukers had across the county in the 60s and 70s, has already begun the preparations for the replica stand by mowing the plot weeks in advance.

Some of the horse competitions won't be going ahead this year, and the attendance will be restricted to about half of the usual amount, but there is still plenty to get excited about.

"One thing we do have is the heavy horses qualifiers for the horse of the year show," added Lance, "so we're looking forward to that."

"We haven't promoted the show this year in the same way that we would normally do. I think we're expecting we'll probably have about half of the people we normally would. The weather is looking like it's going to be very nice."

It all seems a world away from early 2020, when the showground was hit hard by the double flooding disaster that wreaked havoc in the town.

It appeared at one stage that the show may be touch and go last year, regardless of the pandemic, due to the damage that was caused, Thankfully, volunteers have been hard at work to prepare the venue and flood proof where possible.

Lance said: "We've had a fair bit of clearing up to do. We've made quite a few changes since then so when, rather than if, the flooding comes again we are better equipped.

"Before, there was a lot of stuff in the pavilion that got quite badly flood damaged. We've found storage for that now so it doesn't get damaged again in the winter.

"We had a lot of volunteers come and help and it was a really big effort. We always find here that the community is really responsive and helpful. One year we had the toilets vandalised just a few days before the show, but the number of people who came forward to help when they heard about it was very heart warming. For all the bad, there is still a lot of good."

Although it's the first large event the showground has put on in some time, volunteers are prepared for the big day.

"We've been running the car boot sale at the showground with social distancing and Covid restrictions, so we're used to doing it, but this will just be on a bigger scale," added Lance.

"We would encourage people to buy their tickets in advance, but we will be accepting people who don't have a ticket. We have to take their details, but we will be ready. We've got two separate entry gates.

"It will take a lot more resources. There is more we'll need to do in terms of making sure people can follow Covid restrictions. We're going to have to monitor everything a lot more closely than we usually would.

"We've always had a lot of support from people, and we're grateful for that."

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