The highlight of the South West farmers year, the Devon County Show, is an event which so many people, not just farmers, mark in their diaries every year due to the fact that there really is something for everyone, and a day in which your senses are attacked from every angle is virtually guaranteed!
This three day event is held in the middle of May at the massive Westpoint showground in Exeter, and from the moment that you walk through the gates you just know that it is something very special indeed. The main entrance is situated on a hill so you are greeted with a view which seems to go on for miles and miles. The noise of the fairground in the distance, thoroughbred animals making themselves known and people generally enjoying this magnificent occasion goes hand in hand with every smell imaginable, from delicious locally produced food to the familiar presence of farm animals who are competing for the various prizes which are on offer.
It would be fair to say that for anyone who is visiting the Devon County Show, any one of the three days would be adequate to take everything in. My favourite day is always the final day of the event, Saturday, but it is important to make an early start, otherwise you will be left kicking yourself because you have simply run out of time.
The car parking is planned with military precision but one word of warning, make a note of which part of the car park you are in, otherwise it will be a losing battle to find your car at the end of the day due to the sheer number of visitors at the show. There are a large number of shuttle buses available who will take you straight to the entrance gates, and back to your car again once the show has finished and you have got to say that the price is right for these buses, ie, no charge!
When it comes to the show itself, there is no right way or no wrong way to tackle it but what is highly advisable is to download a map of events from the Devon County Show Website or to make full use of the map and event descriptions that you are given out at the entrance gate. My particular favourites are the locally produced food stalls, of which there are many. Everything from local cheeses to freshly caught oysters are on offer and when washed down with some delicious Devon cider, could there really be anything better?
Depending on your budget though, it may be a wise choice to take a picnic along to the show with you as it is all very well to sample a few culinary delights, but when it comes to the fast food which is favoured by many families, especially the children, it can work out to be extremely expensive and can take the gloss of what would otherwise be a perfect day out.
So, to sum up a day at the Devon County Show, there is always something for everyone, and to experience the old farming traditions alongside the more familiar family attractions is something that works really well and there is little doubt that just like me, after visiting the show once you will want to return every year because it really is that good!