Historic Alnwinton Show draws in the champions at last show of the season

Alwinton Show, now in its 148th year, will feature everything from a renowned sheep show to Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling

Alwinton Show is known for the beautiful views it offers of the Coquet valley
Alwinton Show is known for the beautiful views it offers of the Coquet valley

World champion sportsmen, it seems fair to speculate, don’t usually flock to country shows, but today, Ryan Dolan, from Carnoustie, Scotland - a top level Cumberland & Westmorland wrestler - will be battling it out with the Northumbrians at the final event of its kind in the season.

Alnwinton Show, now in 148th year, typically draws in around 5,000 visitors from the across North East and further afield.

Among the wealth of competitions it offers, the wrestling has proved increasingly popular - no doubt influenced by a prize money pot of more than £1,500.

Ryan, who beat Northumberland’s finest at the World Championship at Rothbury Mart last month, will be hoping to retain his crown when the action kicks off in the main ring at 1pm.

Darren Whitfield, a coach at Rothbury wrestling club, said: “We are looking forward to a fun-packed day at Alwinton and some great wrestling.

“The renewed interest in Cumberland & Westmorland Wrestling, spurned on by people like Robson Green, means we hope to have a great range of competitions with boys, girls, men and women participating.

Scenes from the 1986 Alwinton Border Shepherds Show 12 October 1986. The tug of war competition
Scenes from the 1986 Alwinton Border Shepherds Show 12 October 1986. The tug of war competition
 

“Its a real credit to the reputation of Alwinton that we get such interest from competitors across the country.”

Also on offer throughout the day will be the main attraction, the sheep show, as well as wide range of other competitions, from children’s and adults’ fell races to terrier racing and industrial categories, like baking, vegetables, flower displays, knitting, embroidery, photography and drawing.

A pipe band display will likewise be held, while visitors browse a huge range of trade stands, crafts and farmers’ market stalls.

The event, supported by volunteers from cancer charity Daft as a Brush, will also include plenty of options when it comes to refreshments, from a renowned beer tent hosted by Robert and Anne Dunn from The Star in Harbottle to teas, coffees and wide range of lunches.

Youngsters, meanwhile, can take their pick when it comes to amusing themselves, with everything from dodgems and bouncy castles to games such as Hook the Duck on offer.

Evelyn Snaith judges the homemade bread and cakes at Alnwinton Show in 2002
Evelyn Snaith judges the homemade bread and cakes at Alnwinton Show in 2002
 

“It’s a family day out,” said show secretary, Bessie Rogerson, who has been in the role for three years and whose family has a long association with the show. “This is always the weekend on which people come back to Alwinton.

“My daughter and her family, for example, live in Bristol, but fly up on the Friday. You see people at the show that you maybe haven’t seen for the entire year.”

Alwinton Show is thought to have originated more than 150 years ago - although, on some occasions, such as during the war years and following long spells of problematic weather, the event has had to be cancelled.

It is believed the event was first established by a group of Scottish shepherds who crossed the border and met further up the valley.

The roots of the show as we know it today were planted by William Dagg, show secretary in the 1950s, who worked hard to bring more traders in, while introducing competitive classes in areas like vegetables and stick dressing.

Bessie’s family got involved as far back as 1963, when her father Bobby Dixon took over as secretary.

Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling World Champion Ryan Dolan
Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling World Champion Ryan Dolan

“The show was quite good by this time because William had built it up,” she said. “My mother and sister than ran it for a while and my dad retired and became president.

“Then my sister-in-law Libby Dixon took over before retiring after the 2000 show.”

The most recent outbreak of foot and mouth, she said, had meant the removing the sheep element, but sheep secretary Jan Hall had been able to build it back up again, attracting 280 entries this year.

The dog show had also grown in popularity and the show still featured hound trails.

“People picture traditional foxhounds, but these are trail hounds following a trail of aniseed,” Bessie said.

She added that the event typically attracted visitors from all over the region, travelling from places like Durham, Consett and Carlisle.

“Alwinton is a beautiful place and the fact that it’s the last show seems to help, rather than hinder, us,” she said.

“When you look at August and September, there’s always two or three shows on the same day, but ours doesn’t seem to clash with anything. We just have to rely on getting decent weather.”

For more details, including times, see http://www.alwintonshow.co.uk/

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