I’ll be ever-grateful to Elizabeth Johnston for the heads-up (before I’d booked my travel to Shetland) that the Cunningsburgh show would be happening on August 13. I was able to arrive in time to see the show in its entirety, instead of arriving two days late. I had to sacrifice an open spinning day in County Durham to accomplish this, but assuming I get another trip to the British Isles it is easier to schedule a trip to County Durham than it is one to Shetland, especially since I wanted an unbroken chunk of time for research here.
At present I envision three posts on the Cunningsburgh show, because otherwise it’s quite overwhelming, even when I keep the photos to a minimum. I’ve lined up images for (1) this overview; for (2) a post on the sheep; and for (3) a post on some of the textile crafts.
Here’s the site of the fair before it actually opened. I arrived at about 8:45 so I could get permission to hover around the sheep judging, which began at 10 and went to some time after noon. Compared to, say, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, it's quite small. But there was more than enough to keep me busy, and even with all day I still didn't get all the photos and conversation that might have happened!
There was a lot of mud, and occasional showers.
I never got soaked, though, nor did I put on my waterproof trousers, although at times I thought about finding a dry spot to pull them on over my regular clothes. I got damp, but never soaked.
Animals other than sheep were well represented. As in most places, you could tell the horse-and-pony people from the sheep people at a glance by what they were wearing.
I didn’t have much time to look at critters other than sheep, but I did walk around and notice that there were, of course, ponies.
And cows (kye).
And dogs, of all types and sizes, but every one of them well socialized.
It's true, I took photos of two of the three Border collies that I saw. I have a soft spot for Border collies.
The baking competition ranged from plain pancakes to elaborately decorated cakes, with everything else in between. This comparatively simple entry caught the judges’ attention, as well as mine.
One thing that I enjoyed was that the show’s announcer had a cordless mike and walked around the site letting people know what was going on and what they might want to be prepared to go enjoy. That included two sittings of a mid-day dinner, in a building across the road, and live music starting at 2 in the afternoon.
A couple of times he made an announcement asking a particular person to please go to a specific location, "preferably with a dog."
I got to hear part of the music, although not as much as I would have liked. When I was in the music tent, it was fun to see the front spaces shared by musicians and fiber folk—the latter engaged in all parts of the process, from carding through spinning and up to knitting and weaving (yes, there was a floor loom—on the far right).
During the brief time in the mid-day when I found a bench and sat down for a bit, I couldn't help noticing the practical footwear on the young woman next to me.
And as we drove away from the show, the line of traffic to the north was led by a fair participant who had entered an enormous cabbage—it was the size of a small sheep, and she carried it in a trailer attached to her four-wheeler.
Elizabeth, who was taking me back to my lodging, said, “She’s going all the way to Gulberwick, and there’s a stock trailer behind her, so this is the speed we’ll be going.” And everyone seemed happy with that situation at the end of a long day in the rain and sun and a bit of wind.
More to come: sheep, and a few craft highlights that caught my eye.