Last time we offered advice for those showing animals at shows this year, so now we’ve put together a few tips for those thinking of heading to some shows as spectators, be they small local ones or larger national shows. Livestock shows bring a lot of life to communities over the summer and it’s always a good day out no matter what age you are. However you can easily get overwhelmed by the event and you can end up leaving regretting some decisions if you aren’t careful. So here are the Agridirect teams tips to make sure you make the most of the day.
You might think planning is counter-intuitive to a fun day out but if you want to enjoy the day and not be rushing you will need to decide what parts of the show you most want to see. All shows will have several events running at once and you will have to decide if you would prefer to watch the Charolais bulls being judged or the Texel sheep and so on. There will be probably be trade stands, arcade games and other events that you will want to see as well. Look through a programme and decide the 10 things you most want to see in the morning and the 10 in the evening. If you have time after that then you can try to get as much of the rest in as possible. Otherwise you will hear the next day that there was a pig race that you would have loved to see and you missed it!
- Find the toilets and the food stands first
The most important thing is to locate the on-site toilets. It will be a long day and you’re going to need to use the toilet at least once during the day. You don’t want to be caught short and realise you have no idea where to go! Equally important is to know where the food stands are. You don’t want to find yourself on a hangry rampage trying to locate food, or worse have a hangry child having a tantrum with no idea where to bring them. I’ve seen parents leave show grounds in frustration to the nearest town with crying kids in tow after failing to find the food stands.
- Get to the show ring early.
If there is a particular event you want to see then I suggest looking up the time it starts and getting to the ringside at least fifteen minutes before. There will be a lot of people at most events and there won’t be raised seating so if you’re not in the first few rows you will find it hard see all the contestants (unless you’re 6 ft 8in or more, you know who you are! You can come late and stay at the back you great behemoth and let everyone see.) If you have kids that are excited to see a particular event this is even more important, otherwise you could end up with a very upset Hereford enthusiast.
- Bring snacks!
If you are bringing kids with you have some snacks with you at all times. Showgrounds can be big and if you find yourself miles away from food when the kids decide they’re hungry you can be in for trouble. It can also be a good idea to bring your own picnic if you want to keep the cost of the day down, as buying food all day will add up, particularly if you have kids. (Though I have to admit that having some chips and a burger from a trailer usually adds to the whole experience for me.)
- Have all the essentials
Pack the sun block and the coat, this is Ireland after all! Wear old shoes, boots or wellingtons, there’s livestock around all day, you will be in a field and there will be muck around. The same goes for clothes. Don’t go wearing delicate clothes you don’t would hate to see get ruined or dirty. You should be fine but there is always a chance slip or, though it seems unlikely with the weather now, rain showers. Most importantly PLEASE LADIES, NO HEELS!! As obvious as it seems I’ve seen ladies near break ankles trying to navigate through fields in heels. You’re there to view livestock not look like a new born one trying to find its feet!
- Have water with you
Whether you buy it on the day or bring it with you, you will need to have a drink with you, especially in this weather. As I said, it can be a long day and you will need to stay hydrated to be able to enjoy the experience. You don’t want having to leave due to heatstroke!
- Arrange a meeting point
If you have older kids who want to explore by themselves or a partner who is likely to wander and get lost, arrange a point you will meet up either for lunch or at the end of the day. With mobile phones this might seem null and void but batteries running out or phones, dropping or getting lost happen a lot on days out like this not to mention the possibility of poor signals in country fields. It’s always best to have a backup arrangement made as it’s easy to lose track of each other with so much going on around you.
- Keep an eye on your kids!
There are a lot of large livestock on display at these events and while they will mostly be used to the crowds, kept tied or in pens there is always the possibility for these to go wrong when dealing with animals. Make sure your kids are aware of the danger and keep an eye on them if with friends. Young people can be foolish around animals and I’ve often seen youngsters, teen boys mostly, dare each other to get close to or touch bulls at livestock shows. This is very dangerous and foolish as animals can never be trusted, particularly around strangers and the simplest thing can set them off. One flick of the head or a kick can cause serious damage or death!
- Keep off your phone and keep your wits about you
In the same way you need to look after yourself! Don’t spend your time on your phone! Not only will you be missing the fun but you don’t want to be the idiot who walks into a cow’s rear because you weren’t looking where you were going, and that would be the least dangerous thing. With large numbers of potentially dangerous livestock all around you need to be aware of your surroundings. In a split second a bull or a horse could get spooked and if you’re not alert to the danger your nice day out could end in A&E.
- Have fun!
Speaks for itself but there’s no point in going through all the hassle of getting everyone out if you’re not going to enjoy the experience. Don’t waste your time checking Facebook or Instagram, or worrying about work. Enjoy the time with your family and friends. Enjoy the chance to get to see quality livestock and get to know more about the farming and wider communities; Enjoy the chats and the laughter, that’s what a day at the show is all about.