The Royal Highland Show is Scotland’s leading outdoor event showcasing all that’s best in farming, food and countryside.
The show will be the 172nd and the 52nd to be held at Ingliston, near Edinburgh. It regularly attracts over 175,000 visitors with the 2010 attendance breaking all records at 187,644.
Sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland, the show is one of the country’s most iconic and historic brands, mixing serious agri-business with fun, music and entertainment. For 2011, host area the Borders will feature food, textiles, heritage, countryside and visitor attractions from the region.
Look out too for the Countryside Area, Forestry Arena, Agri-Trade Area, Children’s Discovery Centre, Outdoor Living Area, Motor Zone, Equestrian Village, Renewables Section, Food and Drink Hall, Shopping Arcade, Honey Marquee and Handcrafts Pavilion...not to mention 5000 of the UK’s finest cattle, sheep, goats and horses plus competitions, demonstrations and loads of all-action features! “The Greatest Show
Although the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland was established in 1784, it wasn’t until December 1822 that it held its first show at Queensberry House in Edinburgh’s Canongate when according to The Scotsman newspaper "...between sixty and seventy five cattle were exhibited." There were also eight New Leicester sheep and "two beautiful pigs."
Around 1000 members and public attended that first event held on a site adjacent to today’s Scottish Parliament. Gate takings were just over £52, seemingly sufficient to cover overheads.
It’s a far cry from those humble beginnings in the 19th century to the present Royal Highland Show where there’s up to 5000 head of livestock, attendances of around 170,000 and costs associated with staging the event approaching £1.5 million.
Following the inaugural event, the show became a fixture in Edinburgh and Glasgow before moving to Perth in 1829, thereby beginning the tradition of itinerant shows that was to last 130 years before the first “Highland” was held on the permanent site at Ingliston in 1960. The 2010 show is the 170th to be staged.
During the late 19th and into the 20th century, the show had begun to take on more of a semblance of its modern day equivalent with agricultural implements being exhibited, livestock classes open to breeders from other parts of the UK and prizes for the likes of butter and cheese.
Since moving to Ingliston, however, the show has developed beyond recognition and is now internationally recognised as an annual celebration of Scottish farming, food and countryside, attracting an audience far beyond its farming roots - a showcase of all that’s good about Scotland.
Royalty and The Royal Highland Show
By the early and mid 19th century, the Highland and Agricultural Society was a much revered national institution enjoying the patronage of many of Scotland’s dukes and earls, landowners, agricultural pioneers and the Royal family
In 1859, the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, seventeen years old and a student at Edinburgh University, twice visited the Edinburgh showyard. In 1872 Queen Victoria expressed a desire to be enrolled as an ordinary member and in 1894, the Duke of York, the future George V, visited the Aberdeen show as President of Society.
Various members of the Royal family have served as Presidents of the Society, have been awarded Honorary Membership or have visited the Royal Highland Show.
The title Royal was bestowed at Inverness show in 1948 by King George VI, father of the current Patron, Her Majesty The Queen.
The 2010 Royal Highland Show has set a new attendance record of 187,644 - an increase of more than 11,000 on last year’s record of 176,522.
The show, which closed on Sunday night, recorded increased visitor numbers on all four days including an all time daily high of 57,754 on Saturday.
Show Manager David Dunsmuir said: “We are absolutely thrilled with these figures. Although the fine weather and a focused publicity campaign were obvious influences, there is more to it than that. Our core aim is to showcase the farming and food industry and by combining that with an associated programme of entertainment and activity, we have a formula that is obviously appealing to both our specialist audience and the general public.
“Staging an event of this magnitude takes a huge effort. Exhibitors, trade organisations and staff all played their part and deserve a pat on the back, but major thanks go to the public who came in their droves. ”
Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead commented: “This has undoubtedly been one of the most successful Royal Highland Shows of all time. The food and farming sectors appear to be weathering the recession better than many other industries and there has been a real feel good factor this year.
“The visits from the EU Agriculture Commissioner and Chairman of the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee speak volumes for Scotland’s reputation as a land of food and drink. It proves beyond doubt that we are driving forward the debate on CAP and influencing and shaping change. ”
Individual daily attendances were as follows (2009 figures in parentheses): Thursday 39,891 (38,506) Friday 47,885 (47,714) Saturday 57,754 (51,307) Sunday 42,114 (38,995).
The 2012 Royal Highland Show will be held on June 21 -24. The show, at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, will once again be sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland who last week announced a new five year sponsorship package.