Country Fairs: Agriculture Culture

Ogni estate, milioni di britannici visitano queste fiere agricole per incontrare gli animali della fattoria, assaggiare i prodotti artigianali, assistere a spettacoli di ogni tipo e, in generale, celebrare la vita rurale.

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Daniel Francis

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British people love country fairs. The UK holds at least four hundred days of rural events every year, and their popularity is rising all the time. One in ten Britons attends a fair every year, and in 2023, record numbers visited fairs all over the country. Once just for farmers, today the typical sheepdog trials, sheep shearing contests, livestock competitions for best of breed, cider, beer and whisky tents, and food stalls hosting local products are a day out for all the family. 

spreading knowledge

Dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, country fairs were originally founded to spread knowledge of new farming technology — part of the Industrial Revolution — among rural populations. That tradition still continues, with hundreds of trade stands in the fields at agricultural shows today. Stars of the fairs are the latest high-tech tractors. The Great Yorkshire Show, one of Britain’s most popular events, was actually conceived in 1837, when a group of agriculturalists met in York to discuss possible technological improvements in the farming world. The first show opened in 1838. 

Breaking Records

Country shows are now breaking attendance records year after year. The reasons are social, cultural and financial. The Royal Highland Show, held near Edinburgh every June, has more than two hundred thousand visitors, around a thousand exhibitors, and boosts the local economy by an incredible £40 million. British people are now very interested in the sources of their food, as well as particular types of products, such as organic, local, animal-friendly, vegan, fair-trade or environmentally friendly. Urban visitors are reconnecting with the rural world, looking for artisan cheeses and meats, and hand-crafted beers and ciders.  

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Farming as Entertainment

Nostalgia is actually another reason for the fairs’ success. strange though it may seem, farming has now become part of the entertainment industry! Millions of people watch farmers around the world at work on TV shows and YouTube. People want to return to what they remember as the calm, ordered days of the past. Fairs are now family events, where children can even touch the animals in petting zoos.  

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Questo articolo appartiene al numero July 2024 della rivista Speak Up.

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