Three Counties Show follows Chelsea Flower Show by going virtual

Royal Three counties show

While Coronavirus restrictions have put paid to this years Royal Three Counties Show at Malvern on the second weekend of June (12 to 14), in the format loved of its thousands of regular visitors, this has not stopped its organisers from bringing together a bumper crop of farm animals, food, horses, gardening and family fun for a virtual celebration online.

The three-day extravaganza, run in association with JCB, will feature attractions designed to delight regular visitors and remind those who haven’t been along for a year or two what they’ve been missing.

Highlights are set to include virtual action from the Red Devils Parachute Display Team, a variety of livestock-related activities in the farming village, pole climbing, gardening hints and tips and all sorts of family fun, including performances from popular main arena acts such as the Bolddog Lings freestyle motocross team and the Galloping Acrobats.

With free entry to this year’s virtual Royal Three Counties Show, the event’s organisers are confident that the experience they gained in putting the recent RHS Malvern Spring Festival online means they’ll be ready for any eventuality.

“We’re really excited about the programme that we’ve put together, which champions everything we’re about,” says Head of Shows Diana Walton.

“Our society has been going for more than 200 years and we refuse to let anything beat us, including Coronavirus – there’s really no reason why the weekend of June 12 to 14 shouldn’t be a Royal Three Counties weekend for thousands of families.

“Visitors to our website will be able gain access to all the sections they’re interested in, whether it’s agriculture, equestrian, rural industries, gardening, farriery or family fun.

“Special features include virtual young handlers’ competitions, the launch of a virtual sheep shearing contest that will continue throughout the summer, insights into what it’s like to be a judge and a live chat with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust on the Sunday. We’ve teamed up with the National Farmers’ Union to run live Zoom chats during a virtual tour of a Gloucestershire farm on the Friday, and for those with burning questions about agriculture, there will be opportunities to ‘Ask The Farmer’ during a live Saturday session.

“New this year is our relaunched food and drink festival, complete with demonstrations, special show offers and the chance to interact with producers, and there will be a virtual beer tent highlighting different breweries and hop growers, both important rural industries.

“Speakers in the gardening hub will include Reg Moule from BBC Radio Gloucestershire and BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester.”

Diana and her team are particularly hoping that the virtual Royal Three Counties Show will attract many people who haven’t had the opportunity to visit before, or perhaps haven’t been for a few years, not forgetting those for whom the event is a mainstay in their summer calendar.

“In a normal year we would expect to welcome around 90,000 people, but we have no way of knowing how many will opt to visit the show from the comfort of their armchairs,” she said. “Our online RHS Malvern Spring Festival attracted more than 91,000 viewers in 62 countries, two thirds of whom were new to our website, and we’re hoping that our virtual Royal Three Counties Show will be able to reach an audience we wouldn’t normally see. One aspect of the online spring festival that was particularly appreciated was the way in which we provided an online platform that enabled our exhibitors to trade and we want to do this again at the show, with 400 setting out their stands online.

“We’re passionate about putting on the best possible show we can because we’re fully aware that so many local industries have been hit by coronavirus.  We also want to provide plenty of opportunities for people to learn more about the countryside in a fun environment.”

Famous faces are a familiar sight at the Royal Three Counties Show and this year will be no exception, with farmer, broadcaster and show ambassador Adam Henson providing the welcome to the virtual event. Meanwhile President of the Three Counties Agricultural Society for this year, The Bishop of Gloucester The Right Rev Rachel Treweek, National Farmers Union President Minette Batters, Farming Today presenter Sybil Ruscoe, champion jockey Richard Johnson, Antiques Road Trip expert Philip Serrell and Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, otherwise known as actor John Challis, have all provided messages of support.

“One thing that’s coming through really clearly is this overwhelming feeling of goodwill and support,” says Diana.

The Royal Three Counties Show has been an unmissable event for generations of families from across Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, and those living even further afield. Its roots lie in a gathering of Herefordshire farmers in 1797 and by 1922 the ‘three counties’ had come together to form one show society that put on events that toured different locations around the country until 1957 and the advent of a permanent showground at Malvern.