THE new man at the helm of Northumberland County Show was in a positive mood after a team debrief on Monday.

West Woodburn farmer Robert Raine assumed the reigns as chairman of its parent body, the Tynedale Agricultural Society, in November.

The team had been interested to learn from a survey carried out at the Bywell show ground on Bank Holiday Monday that of the 24,100 visitors, it was the first time a third of them had been to the county show.

“That was quite surprising,” he said. “This year was special, because it’s the Forestry Commission’s centenary and we promoted that stand quite widely, so maybe that pulled new people in.”

He had been particularly pleased with the quality of the livestock entered this year.

While the numbers were similar to last year, the standards were definitely higher. “We’ve had a much better spring this year, compared to last year’s Beast from the East,” he said.

“And the livestock really looked very, very well on it, particularly the sheep. They were a credit to everybody who bred them.”

He was pleased, too, that the breadth of entries the show was known for had been maintained. Every category, from pigs to poultry and cavies to alpacas, had been well-supported.

Nonetheless, he and the rest of the committee were always on the look out for new ideas. “As farmers, we go to the likes of the Great Yorkshire Show and you take note of what they do.

“Not only that, but we get ideas from our own local shows as well. Much of it depends on budget, of course, but you do want to try something new.”

Robert stepped up to the plate in November having already served three years as vice-president of the Tynedale Agricultural Society, and many more as a member of the show’s organising committee.

From a family of respected Texel and Blackface sheep breeders, his father had an equally long association with Northumberland County Show.

“This year’s show went very well, even though visitor numbers were down on last year,” he said. “That’s the rain and British weather for you!

“Now, it’s straight on with planning the next one,” he laughed.