Kirrie’s Guide to the Royal Highland Show 2016

Kirrie’s Guide to the Royal Highland Show 2016

It has been a while since I contributed to the O’Leary PR (super) blog and, at this time of year, the only thing I could possibly write about is the Royal Highland Show, the other love of my life.

If you didn’t know, the agency is in charge of press and PR at the Show, which includes everything from accrediting hundreds of journalists leading up to the Show and running the press office at the event. This is my third Show with O’Leary PR and, hand on heart, it really is the highlight of my year, apart from the O’Leary Christmas party of course. It is all consuming, but worth it – return on investment in terms of our time, effort, brainpower and energy is ten fold. It is an incredible event to be part of.

In homage to this eighth wonder of the world I’m going to use this blog to tell you everything about the Royal Highland Show that you didn’t know – call it the Royal Highland Show for dummies.

The Royal Highland Show is perhaps Scotland’s largest and most enduring event and in 2016 it celebrates its 176th Show. This iconic display of the best in farming, food and rural life takes place over four days every June on the 280-acre site of the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston.

Although it is primarily an agricultural event – and one of the best of its kind in Europe – the Royal Highland really does have something to interest people of all ages, backgrounds and tastes. Here are six parts of the Show that might help illustrate just why this event attracted in excess of 188,000 people in 2015.

  1. The ‘stock’

As you can imagine, the big draw at the Royal Highland is the animals. The finest examples of pedigree cows, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys – even poultry – are on display at the event, judged by the some of the most experienced professionals in the industry. Imagine it as the Word Cup of agriculture and, like the World Cup, competitors take winning extremely seriously! A first prize at the Royal Highland, or a ‘red ticket’ as it is known to the pros, is the most highly regarded accolade in livestock exhibiting.

It isn’t just about taking home first prize and putting the trophy on your mantelpiece. A win at the Royal Highland is good for business. Many exhibitors describe the event as a ‘shop window’, with winning exhibitors fetching a premium price for their champions and their offspring.

One of the best things about the Show for visitors is that they can go round the pens and meet the animals, even pet the calves, which is something everyone from kids to adults will enjoy.

  1. Scotland’s Larder….Live!

Here is something not a lot of people know – the food & drink section at the Royal Highland Show equates to the largest food and drink event in Scotland! Over 115 producers, offering everything from botanical Gin from Fochabers to artisan cheese from Orkney, will feature as part of ‘Scotland’s Larder Live!’ inside the Lowland Hall, one of the many permanent indoor venues at the Show (so if the heavens open, there’s still plenty to do).

The Royal Highland Show is the only food event in Scotland that links together the farmer, the food producer and the consumer, educating showgoers about where their food comes from and highlighting the link between food and farming.

There is also a delicious range of food-to-go on offer, so you can pick up everything from burritos to buffalo burgers.

  1. Big Business

For some visitors, the agri-machinery section of the Royal Highland is a place to stand in awe as you take in the monstrous machines on display. For farmers and manufacturers, it is the place to do business.

June is a fairly quiet time in the agricultural calendar. Lambing and calving is done with and harvest begins in the late summer, so the Show represents an ideal opportunity to take the time to make some vital, and not so vital, purchases.

Over £72 million of equipment is on display at the event, with big manufacturers such as John Deere, New Holland, Honda, Isuzu and Volvo choosing to attend themselves as opposed to the dealers, an indication of how important the Show is for these industries.

As well as machinery, property is another aspect of big business conducted over the four days of the Royal Highland Show. Each year, Farm and Estate Agents, Strutt & Parker, along with other companies such as Turcan Connell, Smiths Gore and CKD Galbraith hold back millions of pounds worth of property from the market so that it can be sold during the Show.

  1. A playground for inquisitive minds

Every year The Royal Highland Show welcome over 35,000 school children to the Show, through its education charity, The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET).

The Children’s Education Centre will feature free hands-on educational activities, such as science experiments, cooking and seafood tasting, all run by RHET staff, volunteers and a variety of activity providers from some of the best educational teams in Scotland.

The best part – children aged 15 and under get into the Show free when accompanied by an adult!

  1. Shopping Heaven

Believe it or not, a lot of people visit the Royal Highland Show for the shopping. There are hundreds of trade stands, over 1,100 to be exact, selling everything from Hunter wellies to handmade soap. In 2016 the 13th Avenue Shopping Arcade will offer a luxury shopping experience. Featuring fine furniture, jewellery and clothing the Arcade will also boast a Prosecco bar where you can rest your tired feet after some retail therapy.

  1. The perfect stage for a debate

As well as playing a significant role in supporting the Scottish agricultural industry, the Highland also has a much wider economic impact – £46.2 million in 2015 – and plays a key role as a forum to highlight and discuss some of the crucial issues affecting Scotland today. The 2015 Show saw top figures from the Scottish Politics, such as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Richard Lochhead, using the event as opportunity to promote new initiatives. This year’s Show will be no different, with the EU Referendum vote taking place on the first day of the Show (23rd June).

So there you have it! This is just a taster of what’s on offer and there is no better way to experience the best of farming, food and rural life than the Royal Highland Show – see you next week!