The President of the NFU, Minette Batters, is to be the guest speaker at the annual dinner that will mark the conclusion of this year’s historic 150th Ashford Cattle Show.
Attendance by such a high-profile guest highlights the importance of this event, both to the town and to the industry.
There are no longer shows of this kind in Canterbury, Maidstone and Sevenoaks, their demise having been brought about by the closure of the markets in those towns.
In Ashford, where the market continues to thrive, bringing together buyers and sellers, usually weekly, to fix a price that reflects demand and supply in the fairest possible way, the show has now been happening for 165 years. Even during the pandemic, although the show was inevitably cancelled, the market itself continued to serve the industry and play its part in delivering food to the table.
The fact that this is the 150th show since 1857 reflects the fact that 15 shows have been missed over the past 165 years – due to world wars and to diseases affecting both humans, in the shape of Covid-19, and animals, where bluetongue and foot and mouth forced cancellations.
This year’s show, held at the Ashford Market on Monday 28 November by kind permission of the Ashford Cattle Market Company and Hobbs Parker Auctioneers LLP, will have a modern slant but will still have its roots in tradition.
There will be classes for finished cattle, sheep and pigs, lamb carcasses, wool, field crops, art and Christmas cakes, together with a children’s section and, new for this year, a competition for the best three eggs.
The lamb carcases and Christmas cakes will be auctioned on the day, while the livestock will be sold in the usual market on Tuesday 29. The annual dinner will take place that evening at the Ashford International Hotel.
Also at the dinner the awards for the best herd, flock and arable crops, which were judged during the summer, will be presented.