1.Plan ahead. Decide what you most want to see. There are loads of displays in the different arenas – many of them repeated through the day – so grab a programme and take a few minutes out to plan your day. Some of the main arena shows can get pretty crowded too, so get there a little bit early (and try not to stand right under the loud speaker!) It’s often worth looking for something a little different too – I never expected to enjoy the scurries as much as I did, but it was great fun! I also love the gun dog displays (of course) and the falconary displays are amazing! Have a look at some of the smaller arenas too – there is loads going on, don’t just stick to the main one!
2.Think about your dog! There is plenty for him to have a go at too! Gundog scurries if he is a gun dog, ‘Chase the Bunny’ for any breed, terrier and lurcher activities, and of course, the amazing Gillies Leap Fun Dog Show, with classes for every and any dog under the sun (including ‘Best Asbo’ if you’re thinking your dog is not well behaved enough!) And you can also have your dog’s photograph professionally taken at the dog show stand with no obligation to buy.
There are also some very experienced dog trainers around if you are having any problems with your dog, so make the most of the opportunity and go and have a chat! Please be aware though that your dog will need to be with you all day. Living Heritage has a strict policy on dogs left unattended in cars – especially in the hot weather – and you will be asked to leave the show ground if a dog in a car is thought to be in discomfort! Remember to bring water for him (although there are water bowls around the show) and poop bags!
3. Food and Drink is, of course, available. I am going to give a shameless recommendation for ‘The Big Sizzle’ which is my (and my daughter’s) absolute favourite. Amazing sausages from around the world. We make a visit at least once every show weekend. Of course there are many other wonderful caterers. I believe you can even try ostrich burgers if you want to – although I never have!
4. Lost Kids It is busy, and there are lots of distractions, and there is nothing on earth worse than turning around and realising your child is not with you. I know it’s obvious, but it’s always worth giving your kids a meet-up point for if they get lost as soon as you get there, or telling them who to look for. Living Heritage Shows have a brilliant band of security guys who deal with lost kids with 100% urgency as soon as they are reported (or discovered) but if your child is old enough to know to look for a security guy for themselves, or make their way to the security van – or any obvious place – so much the better. I always used to stick my mobile number on my kids’ backs when they were smaller – or even write it on their wrist, where it shouldn’t wash off – and teach them to go to a shop or a lady with children and show her the number.
5. Consider Your Feet. I know that sounds silly, but I am always amazed at the number of people I see hobbling around a show in stilletos! It is a field, and you will be walkng a long way around it by the time you’ve seen everything. It is very bumpy and I hope it will be completely dry this year, but it mght not. Wellies are good.
6. Bring Your Credit Card and Do Your Present Shopping! I’m not on comission, honest! And because I go to all the shows my dear husband makes me leave mine at home half the time… but I usually come home with something (often a hat!) You can get some amazing deals at some of the trade stands, and there is a whole variety of different things. It is also a brilliant place to look for slightly different presents if you have any birthdays coming up.
So ladies (not wishing to be sexist here, but tell it how it is!) Leave your other halves at the main arena with the kids and go and browse the craft marquees! There are usually a couple and they are just wonderful. The food marquee is also well worth a visit and I have to admit, my young partner in crime and I have spent some happy times just trying all the tasters… If I take my husband home some nice cheese, he turns a blind eye to my other purchases…
7. Older People Top tip: it is really worth bringing a deck chair. It is a long day and a whole lot of walking. If sitting on the ground is difficult, you can’t really rely on getting a bench. Bring a deck chair and you can park it by the side of an interesting demonstration and have a rest. Probably very obvious but the number of times we are bringing the chairs out of our tent to give an elderly person a sit down, I don’t think many people think about it.
If it’s a choice between carrying a chair or a cool box, I would bring the chair and try an ostrich burger!
8. Make Sure You See The Whole Show! It’s pretty big, and although you can sometimes look and think there is just one huge arena with stuff around the outside, there is more ‘stuff’ behind the ‘stuff’ – at least two arenas and lots of smaller rings too. So don’t miss anything! And if you’re not sure where the ‘stuff’ is, ask one of the good looking security guys! And especially don’t miss the Fun Dog Show…
9. Try Something New! I think this would be my top, top tip of the post (although the lost kids one is pretty up there!) – try something new at the next country show you go to. Hold an owl; enter your dog into something – who cares if he gets it totally wrong? He certainly won’t be the first (or last!) Try clay shooting. Enter the rifle shooting competition. Have a go at fly fish casting – it might be into a paddling pool, but it’s still fun! Find out how they blow glass into those amazing shapes. Back a ferret in the ferret racing (I nearly lost my voice supporting this one: he came second but looking good for this season 😉 ). Go into the ring amongst the fox hounds (if you feel a bit conspicuous because you don’t have a child, take your camera instead!) Take some time to watch the incredible chain saw artists rather than walking quickly by. Make it your goal to do something you’ve never tried before – and enjoy it!
10. Don’t forget your fancy dress for the dog show! Most of our classes you can join in on the spot but the fancy dress might take a little bit of forethought! So stick your dinosaur costumes in the car before you come (and if you don’t want to carry it around all day, leave it with us when you book your dog in!)
Have a great day at the Country Show!
See you in the Dog Zone!!