The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has played a leading role in the development of agriculture and the rural economy in Wales for over a century, since its formation in 1904.
Today our work includes providing support for business, social welfare and education in rural communities, and the organisation and staging of our ever-popular society events; the Smallholding and Countryside Festival, the Royal Welsh Show and the Winter Fair.
A fixed engagement in the calendar for many, the annual Royal Welsh Show, this year being held on 22-25 July, will be celebrating its 100th show.
The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society was established originally as the Welsh National Agricultural Society in 1904 and became ‘Royal’ three years later, when King George V became patron in 1907, followed by King George VI in 1936 and the Queen in 1952.
For the first half of the last century, the show moved between sites each year, alternating between North and South Wales. It wasn’t until 1963 that the show and society offices moved to its current, permanent site in Llanelwedd.
Having settled at the showground, the society did not lose sight of the host county structure which had seen it in such good stead during those early years. Rather than moving from county to county, as before, counties were invited to be featured each year, with a representative becoming the society’s president for their term-of-office. The feature county and county advisory structure still remains the backbone of the society’s success and the ‘gold-dust’ that sets us apart from many other societies.
With the early aims of the society to improve the breeding of stock and encourage agriculture throughout Wales, the first show held in Aberystwyth attracted 442 livestock entries. Four years later, in 1908, 23 special trains comprising 224 cattle trucks and horse-boxes arrived at the show, together with 100 passenger coaches ferrying visitors from far and wide.
Nowadays, livestock entries number around 8,000, with 20,000 cars a day plus hundreds of stock lorries and trailers converging on the showground in Mid Wales for the annual event which has grown into one of the most popular agricultural shows in Europe.
Today, the society is a national institution loved throughout Wales and beyond, not only by farmers and the rural community but by people from all walks of life, many of whom have come to regard the Royal Welsh Show as the highlight of their year.
Despite the society celebrating its centenary back in 2004, we have not been able to hold a show every single year. The show was cancelled during both world wars, in 1948 due to petrol rationing and most recently, in 2001 due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak. As a result, we are very excited to be holding our 100th show this year!
Throughout the four days there will be a number of commemorative celebrations to mark this milestone in the show’s history. These include hosting a wedding for lucky couple, Arwel and Bethan from Carmarthenshire. The loved-up pair were nominated by friends to tie the knot during the show, in an all-expenses paid wedding, following a number of difficult years for the couple and their family. Surrounded by an intimate group of friends and family, Arwel and Bethan will marry in our picturesque bandstand, right at the heart of the busy and bustling showground, on the first day the show, before enjoying a glass of chilled champagne and delicious wedding breakfast with their guests.
On each of the four days, the main ring will see a musical extravaganza celebrating 100 years of farming and welsh culture. Complete with both traditional and contemporary music, song, dance and commentary, a procession of some of the earliest faming machinery to the most up-to-date technology available today will be cleverly choreographed into a breath-taking display for all to enjoy. Produced by the Welsh Pony and Cob Society Young Ambassador, Euros Llyr Morgan, the spectacle will also feature a special singing guest wowing the crowds whilst on horseback.
The 100th show is also picked up in many of the competitions throughout the showground with special commemorative prize cards and rosettes for the champions of each section, also with cake decorating, ornamental ironwork, forestry demonstrations and floral art classes depicting the theme. Staying within the horticulture section, the show will also host the launch of a brand new Sweet Pea variety to commemorate the 100th Royal Welsh Show.
Rounding off a fantastic few days of celebrations, an awe-inspiring Supreme Champion of Champions competition will be staged in the main ring on the Thursday afternoon. This special, class will see horses, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs all competing for this one-off 100th Royal Welsh Show title with the honour of judging falling to our very own Show Director, Harry Fetherstonhaugh, on his final year in the role after 25 years.
Along with the fantastic livestock, the show provides something to interest everyone through its wide range of activities including forestry, horticulture, crafts, countryside sports, food and drink and a 12-hour programme each day of exciting entertainment, attractions and displays.
The big attractions in the main ring will be the incredible Atkinson Action Horses, who have spent the past twenty years training horses and riders for film and TV. With recent credits from Poldark, Victoria, Peaky Blinders, The Living and the Dead & Hippopotamus – it is guaranteed this elite force has at some point invaded your TV screen! Prepare to saddle up, strap in and hold on tight, as this fearless team of stunt riders bring their unique display to the main ring each day of the show.
Visitors can also look forward to watching the daredevil Bolddog Lings motorcycle display team. With non-stop action from start to finish, their display will feature the UK’s top ranked freestyle motocross riders, incorporating the latest heart stopping tricks, entertaining the crowd with their on board commentary – even talking to the crowd while performing a trick flying 35ft in the air!
Returning to entertain the crowds will be the spectacular Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh, Black Mountains Falconry, Tristar Carriage Driving, Meirion Owen and the Quack Pack, Inter Hunt Relay and much more.
With over a thousand tradestands and hundreds of amazing food and drink stalls, even the most discerning shopper and food enthusiast will be spoilt for choice during the show – we’ve even provided ‘shopping crèches’ to keep your precious purchases safe until home time.