Highland fling: The Royal Highland Show

Cameron Cormack (8) and his sister Chloe (6), from Cornhill-on-Tweed in the Borders, with their Hereford cow. Picture: Jane Barlow
Cameron Cormack (8) and his sister Chloe (6), from Cornhill-on-Tweed in the Borders, with their Hereford cow. Picture: Jane Barlow
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The Royal Highland Show, one of Scotland’s most iconic and enduring events, is gearing up for its 173rd staging.

As last year’s event proved, even torrential rain does not dampen enthusiasm for what has become Scotland’s, if not the UK’s, biggest and best celebration of farming, food and countryside.

Here are some of the 2013 highlights.

Highland fling

The Royal Highland Show was last held in the Highland capital of Inverness in 1956, four years before the permanent move to Ingliston.

This year, to promote tourism and urge visitors to consider new ways of interacting with the varied landscape of Scotland, the Highlands and Islands are to be showcased under the banner “Land of Opportunity”. Mountain biking, a giant climbing wall, abseiling and musical entertainment will be just some of the offerings to entertain show-goers.

Ski Scotland will also be on hand to help visitors get involved while the Highland Council Ranger Service will share expert knowledge on where to go and what to see in the area.

RHASS president, Jamie Williamson is already looking forward to the events.

“The Royal Highland is Scotland’s biggest rural affair so it makes sense to invite a full breadth of local organisations and rural businesses to play a role in promoting the attributes of this fantastic part of Scotland,” he says.

“We will be looking to provide Royal Highland Show-goers from all over the world a taste of life in the Highlands and Islands, and hoping to inspire new and returning visitors to the area.”

Foodies to feast

With 100 exhibitors already signed up to attend from all over the country, show-goers will be set to get their tastebuds tickled as the country’s best producers and suppliers showcase the best is Scottish gastronomy in the Food Hall.

Managed and organised by Event Scotland and acclaimed food critic Wendy Barrie, the top attraction, the 120-seat Cookery Theatre – major sponsor The North Highland Initiative (NHI) - will return with a rolling programme of more than 30 all-action demonstrations over the four-day event. This year the Cookery Theatre will be renamed the Natural Larder to pay homage to the Year of Natural Scotland celebrations.

Beautiful Blondes

The “Highland’s” big attraction is no doubt the livestock – with more than 5000 of the finest cattle, sheep, goats and horses, not to mention poultry heading for the showground.

In the cattle lines, much of the focus will be on the magnificent British Blonde with the show nominated as the British Blonde’s National Show for 2013.

Equestrian Excellence

The Royal Highland Show is the largest equestrian show in Scotland with classes for light and heavy horses, private driving, heavy horse turnouts, harness and grooming plus top class show-jumping – in all some 3000 horses and ponies.

Farming Expertise

Over the four days, visitors will get to see the complete range of modern farm equipment and machinery, techniques, advice and support. With the vast majority of manufacturers, dealers and specialists represented, the show offers a unique opportunity to review the latest releases and developments across the industry.

Pulling Power

While many will be aware of the show’s high standing in the agri-business industry, few will realise the contribution the event makes to the Scottish economy, almost £100 million each year. The show’s success in attracting leading political figures and industry leaders has increased year on year and will continue in 2013 with delegations from home and across the globe.

Inquisitive minds

Volunteers will take children on tours of key stalls and attractions in the showground to underline the links between consumers, farmers and producers. Interactive sessions within the Children’s Discovery Centre include badge making with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, learning how to make flour from corn with Edinburgh’s Gorgie City Farm and the opportunity to milk Mabel – the show’s life-sized fiberglass cow.

The Children’s Discovery Centre will be open to members of the public throughout the four-day event between 9am-5pm.

Shopping Heaven

Bringing a taste of the high street to the showground, a saunter into one of the many shopping arcades will offer everything from luxury fashions and homewares to arts, crafts and gardening. Show-goers will have the chance to pick up the latest country styles or take home a piece of rural life for their home.

Becky takes the helm

Along with a host of new attractions, this year’s show also has a new manager in the form of Becky Elvin who joins from the Royal County of Berkshire Show. Brimming with new ideas, Becky is keen to get 2013’s show under way, already meeting with the many hundreds of volunteers, partnership organisations, exhibitors, sponsors and suppliers who make this the “Greatest Show on Earth”.

Not underestimating the job in hand, Becky is keen to reinforce the value the show brings in terms of being a remarkable day out for families.

“When families are making the decision as to which of the many events to attend, we want to make sure the Royal Highland Show is up there on their ‘must visit’ list,” she says. “We are working hard to market the diversity the show offers and are looking forward to rolling this plan out. We are certainly not complacent, there is a lot of work to be done to attract new audiences and keep our loyal visitors returning.”

A bird’s eye view

The Royal Highland Show has been selected as a venue to present a spectacular series of photographs of striking locations around Scotland as part of the Britain from the Air Exhibition.

Stephen Hutt, RHASS’ chief executive is delighted that the show was chosen to host the exhibition. “The Society has almost 15,000 members, many of whom are landowners and farmers responsible for the stewardship of Scotland’s countryside,” he says.

“It is therefore highly appropriate for this exhibition to be a part of the 2013 show and I am sure it will be a welcome new addition to the show line-up.”

• Royal Highland Show 2013, Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston. Thursday, June 20-23, £20-£25, 0131-335 6200