USUALLY at this time of the year the district’s farming community is basking in the glory of another successful show season.

The Upper Redesdale Show, at glorious Rochester, is usually the final instalment of the season, taking the five-month extravaganza of events into early October.

But like many other aspects of life in the Tyne Valley, the agricultural shows which are synonymous with our communities have been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been a tremendous blow for a district where farming has always been at forefront of the rural economy.

The shows may not be integral to livelihoods - but they have a key role to play for many reasons.

They primarily provide a platform for farmers to showcase their best sheep and cattle, create friendly competition with the honour of a prize-winning rosette or trophy at stake.

In doing so, the social opportunities created by such events are crucial for an industry where farmers can live miles apart from each other.

Some of them might not see each other between shows, unless they attend sales at the mart, or other organised events.

There’s also the family side, for the shows have no shortage of social opportunities, as well as competitions, for partners, wives, girlfriends, and children.

Haltwhistle farmer Willie Weatherson is a familiar face on the show scene. A keen competitor, he’s also an experienced master of ceremonies.

“I’ve always loved the shows,” he said. “They’ve been a big miss this year but I am sure that they will come back strongly.

“People will be more determined to get them going again once we’re allowed to.

“The shows are a great way for everyone to keep in touch, and there’s no doubt we’ve missed that.

“We’ve just got to be patient. This year has been an exceptional one. Safety comes first but there’s no doubt that the shows will have their time again.”

Things were very different 12 months ago, when the curtain came down on the 2019 season at the Upper Redesdale Show.

A strong presence from sheep farmers across the North-East and beyond set up a fiercely competitive afternoon. The event marked the return of the Swaledale breed sheep judging after many years away from the schedule.

Rob Airey, of Otterburn, impressed judges to win the champion Swaledale trophy, while Peter Turnbull won the Hexham Blackface Sheep championship.

In the industrial tent, Gary Mettam, of Lincoln, shared the prize for vegetables with Jim Scott.