A Day at the Poynton Show

by frankbeswick

Poynton is a well-established Country Show that provides a good day out for visitors.

A country show differs from a flower show, for it deals with a wide range of country pursuits,such as farming, crafts and general good fun.Poynton is a show with a long tradition behind it, dating from the nineteenth century when Poynton was still a country village rather than the expensive suburb that it now is.However, it maintains its traditions of friendliness and hospitality to exhibitors. Exhibiting there was a pleasant experience.

The Display

Take a look at the picture of the display, and you will see a butterfly made from tomatoes,bits of cauliflower, beans, potatoes and tomatoes,floral art using vegetables, quite simple really, but it required some delicacy of touch. My role? Well,this time I helped make the display. An artistic work! My first ever, but don't be too impressed, I was helping someone else; and I had dark visions that when we lifted the display the tomatoes would  fall off. They didn't. But the small,yellow kumquats were the tricky bit.Tiny and soft,the cocktail sticks used to affix them to the polystyrene base kept on coming through the top and having to be tapped back. But all's well that ends well, and this ended well.

Well, I had a role in growing the display this year. After last year's show Noelle, the show secretary, set me a target of two pumpkins.There you see them, sitting by the butterfly. OK, here's an admission, they were helping to prop up the butterfly, but that's just an extra function. They are smaller than I wanted, but growing conditions in Britain have been poor this year, so we need to be thankful for small mercies.I have a larger one in the greenhouse, but it would not make a matched pair with one of the others,so I couldn't use it.  Anyway,my culinarily enthusiastic second son has claimed that one.

How do you get leeks so long, I was asked by visitors?  The technique is to grow in tubes so that the root goes down a long way, then make sure that they are very well fed and watered. To get them so white so far up the stem wrap them in dark fabric all the way up to the point where the leaves commence. Release the fabric immediately prior to picking. This blanches the leeks. 

You might ask about the giant onions.What do they taste like. Probably the same as other onions, but I have never eaten them, as the grower keeps them for seed. . 

Many visitors ask about the cucamelons, bottom left. About the size of a large grape,it is a hybrid of cucumber and melon. Apparently, it is a good flavouring in gin or certain other drinks.You can get cucamelon seeds, but not  everyone has success with them, and so I advised  would-be growers to propagate them from cuttings, a process that is a kind of vegetative propagation.

The horticulture marquee had a fine display of gladioli, and it seems that certain growers make Poynton their own show. Sadly, my camera failed and so I have no pictures of them, but I like gladioli, as they remind  me of my parents' garden when I was a child. 

The Display

display
display
Francis Beswick

Other Attractions

The poultry and rabbit marquee was noisy, with chickens clucking and crowing loudly. I paid a brief visit, which was tinged with sadness.I had a good friend, a poultry expert who used to be a judge there, but we lost him to cancer eight years ago, aged sixty. Too young.

I then entered the hobbies marquee, which was a delightful place. Crafts folk of all kinds were displaying their wares. I made a beeline for the wine stall,where a friendly fellow was displaying his products, all home made wines. I was not allowed to purchase as the stall has no alcohol licence, but the man was allowed to give me a free sample to taste. He proffered me a rhubarb wine and I gratefully accepted.It was delicious. I have not made wine for some time, but he kindly gave me some advice on getting  the best results,and I moved on contentedly.   

Next came the bread and cake  display, see below, where  a delightful array of the baker's art was spread.I grew up in a home where baking was a major part of life,and my mother was into home made food, so I was happy to gaze on such delicacies. Products go for sale at 16:30 but I was too busy to come back and buy.Just the experience was enough. 

There  was an excellent stall with preserves. Jams, marmalade, pickle and chutneys all were spread across a table, see below,  awaiting sale at the show's end.

Outside the tent there were other displays. There are many pony owners in the area, and a number of young ladies in riding attire were visible  as they waited to enter the pony competitions.I saw one horse with its mane well groomed and ribboned being led to the ring. Displays of cattle, sheep and pigs are part of the agricultural traditions of the show, and some rare breeds are usually on display.

Every year there is a display of dry stone walling, which is  a technique  used in Northern England in which walls are constructed without mortar and held together by weight and balance. It is quite a skill, and it has helped shape the landscape of parts of Britain. 

Crafts

Craft baking
Craft baking
Francis Beswick

Reflections

I do three shows a year and this was the last of them. The next is in July 2020 when I hope to do Tatton, God willing. This year I had to cope with medical problems that limited my ability to carry tables around, especially as the society, ever solicitous for my health, has forbidden me from lifting weights. They are good people. But I got encouragement from people that I met.One show official was nearly ninety and still going strong, and he was not the only hale and hearty older person whom I met that day.

The hospitality of the show is great. Each marquee has its own exhibitor section where a bountiful buffet is laid on;, with sandwiches, pies, sausages and cakes; and the drinks include beer and wine. I had the latter, and it was good quality wine as well!  

This was my second Poynton show and I worked with old friends and gained new ones.When I was leaving one of them, Helen, gave me a hug and said that she was coming to the show next year,in 2020 and that she hoped to see me better.I felt encouraged. 

Jams and Preserves

Artisan Preserves
Artisan Preserves
Francis Beswick
Updated: 08/27/2019, frankbeswick
 
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frankbeswick on 09/17/2019

I said towards the end of the article that my ability to lift and carry show items was limited and that the society had forbidden me from lifting, but today I got good news from the medics. Yes there is a medical problem, but it is curable with some rather intense physiotherapy, but hopefully next year I will be back to normal.

frankbeswick on 09/03/2019

I regret to say that I won no prize for my pumpkin tonight. The winner had a massive marrow.

frankbeswick on 09/03/2019

Produce maybe sold to provide funds for the society,but some people take their produce back, as happened with the large onions. I am submitting a pumpkin in the local National Vegetable Society Manchester Branch show tonight, but I will take it back for my son to cook. He is a keen amateur cook.,

WriterArtist on 09/03/2019

I love country fair, country shows and the country side. What's more, besides the fresh and clean air, one can get stuff cheaper and it is homemade. Malls might have pickles and jams but they lack the freshness and rustic touch.
Loved the butterfly, it looks beautiful and artistic. Do you keep your stuff to sell?

frankbeswick on 08/29/2019

Thanks for your good wishes, Derdriu. Now for your questions.

1:I suppose that a Poynton quilt might emphasise horses,tomatoes and gladioli.

2: The pea-like edible was a runner bean.

3:The alcohol stall was the man's. In the UK you need a licence to sell alcohol, and for this you have to apply to a magistrates' court. Magistrates are lower than judges.The seller would have to present himself to the magistrates to demonstrate that he is a fit and proper person. There was no doubt about the man's suitability, but he simply had not obtained a licence. I could return to my stall with purchased wine, but the hospitality wine was free and I drank it in the hospitality enclosure.

You can make your own wine and beer, but you need a licence to make spirits. You can have alcohol as a raffle prize, but if an under-age person wins it must be handed to an adult.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/29/2019

frankbeswick, Thank you for taking us along on your walk-about through the show and may you be "hale and hearty" and participate in -- and wizzley about -- next year's country and flower shows.
You begin with the helpful differentiation between country and flower shows. The product line gives lovely flower show cards and a flower show quilt book. What do you suppose Poynton would want to highlight for a country show quilt?
What is the green giant pea-like edible between the cauliflower and the kumquats?
In particular, I like the pumpkins, with the green-and-orange speckling and the orange bringing out the greens and yellows in your butterfly and greens of the leeks.
You mention that "I was not allowed to purchase as the stall has no alcohol licence, but the man was allowed to give me a free sample to taste" and that "Jams, marmalade, pickle and chutneys all were spread across a table, see below, awaiting sale at the show's end." Was the stall without an alcohol license his (so he couldn't sell during or after the show) or yours (so you couldn't return to your display with purchased wine)?

frankbeswick on 08/27/2019

I loved doing the show. What is so impressive about the show officials is that in that area they are drawn from some rather high level professionals, including, I have heard, some retired officers, but they don't talk down to exhibitors.

The visitors are so friendly, and that is despite the long queues to get into the show.

blackspanielgallery on 08/27/2019

This looks like a fun experience, especially since the people of the area are friendly. That alone is getting harder to come by.

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