AN overwhelming array of sights, sounds and smells filled the air at the Royal Bath & West Show 2018.

The very first show took place in 1852 in Taunton and toured the country for more than 100 years until Shepton Mallett became its home in 1965.

This historic event is one of the oldest agricultural shows in England and is the only one that takes place over four days. This year, it celebrated 155 years.

It was my very first experience at the Royal Bath & West Show and all I can say is that one day is not enough time to experience it all. There are so many things to see, from livestock exhibitions to local food stalls to vintage machinery shows and much more.

Somerset County Gazette:

It is best to arrive early, to avoid parking far away from the gates. You can also buy the tickets beforehand, to avoid waiting in the queue. However, they are available to buy on the gate if needed.

Once you enter the show, your senses become overwhelmed. If there are shows, exhibitions or stalls you are looking for, then it is probably best to pick up a map or a program at the gate.

I began at the vintage machinery section. Here, you can see a range of steam engines, tractors and commercial vehicles used in farm work and transportation, from when mechanisation became more mainstream.

Walking through the livestock barns, it is clear to see that they are definitely a selection of the United Kingdom’s finest and there is a wealth of pigs, sheep, cows, horses and poultry to admire.

The judging of these animals happened throughout the show, with over 10,000 competitive entries and trust me, there were a lot of animals to see.

The various rings dotted around have many shows on offer. With various show jumping, inter-hunt relays, grand parades of prizewinning livestock and much more, so there is never a dull moment. You should plan before the show if there are events you want to see, so that you don’t miss out.

A new event this year was the Farmers Big Ball Challenge that took place daily in the main ring. This included a group of skilful young farmers, who took on a series of entertaining agility challenges that involved manoeuvring 20 big blue balls using their tractors.

I visited the main lawn around lunchtime, which was filled with guests watching the wonderful Mendip Morris Men, who performed traditional dances of the Cotswolds. The amount of entertainment that fills every area of the showground is phenomenal.

Somerset County Gazette: Mendip Morris Men captured the attention of guests on the main lawn

On the main lawn is a beautiful school tent, highlighting artwork from local Somerset schools. This is a lovely reminder of the surrounding area and the talented school children in the South West.

Deciding to take a break and head in search of some lunch, I headed to the food tent. Filled with delicious aromas of cheese, cider, bread, chocolate and so much more, this tent was worth a visit.

Somerset County Gazette: FOOD STALLS: Taylors of Bruton serving fresh bread

Home to both the British Cider Championships and The British Cheese Awards, the show includes more than 125 food producers, from street food to the finest products that you can take home to share.

There were many Somerset based businesses too, with Taylors of Bruton, the Bath Soft Cheese Company, Grown-up Marshmallows from Exmoor, Rich’s Cider company from Highbridge and of course, Sheppy’s Cider. I am sure there were many more, but there was not enough time to visit them all!

Walking through the back of the tent you can find yourself next to the Wild Beer Stage in the Pilton Tent. This is the perfect place to grab some lunch (from the various food stalls surrounding the tent) and take a seat to watch the local live music performances.

From here you can also visit the horticultural village, a quieter place to look at some beautiful floral artwork. There were many different categories entered, from memories to world war two.

Stepping outside, I found a beautiful Wise Woman’s Garden sponsored by Bridgwater and Taunton College.

Somerset County Gazette: The Wise Woman’s Garden, sponsored by Bridgwater and Taunton College

Walking back towards the gate, I stumbled across the Imagineering Fair. Many organisations took part, offering exciting engineering and technology activities, specially developed for children.

After leaving the Royal Bath & West Show, I was completely shattered. It is a huge venue filled with so much to see and do that you spend a lot of time walking, so that you don’t miss out. Comfy shoes were definitely a necessity.

It is clear to see that the show remains an extremely popular event in the south west. The livestock, main ring events, music, food stalls and vintage machinery are just some of the wonderful things on offer at the Royal Bath & West Show each year.

So, from Taunton to Shepton Mallett, this agricultural show remains an event worth attending in the South West – it is a day out I would recommend.

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