It's the first Saturday in August and it's the Vron Gate Show, now in its 40th year.I suppose once upon a time Vron Gate must have been more significant than it is today - now it's a tiny hamlet comprising a farm, a chapel and two nondescript bungalows. The pub 'The Seven Stars', long since closed and in a stunning state of disrepair, recently sold and is undergoing gentrification. Its landlady Ethel was removed from her squalid surroundings to residential care in Welshpool. But Vron Gate's sense of agri and horticultural importance lives on in its annual show, held in the neighbouring village of Vennington.
It's a quintessentially English occasion. Take one field recently cleared of livestock (avoiding the various droppings is part of the fun), introduce some dodgy weather, a tent with giant vegetables and men with bells on their shoes and you have it. And don't forget the dog show, the children's races and for some reason a display of rusting farm machinery.
At the Vron Gate Show local farmer Chris Halliday always brings one of his fine Jersey cows to be admired - this year it was Whitton Welsh Princess, a gorgeous girl who was Junior Champion at the Royal in 2003. (Well done.) She spent the afternoon contentedly munching. Should her supply of hay have run out she could have turned to the bales behind her - the Best Bale of Hay competition or the Best Pasture (12"x12"). There were also classes for Biggest Dock Leaf and Best Stalks of Wheat x 5.
Inside the marquee fruit and vegetables, baking, jams and country wines weigh down the tables. Children make scarecrows, write poems and there are the most unfunny, Funny Photographs. My favourite class had to be children's Shoe Box Farmyards and Vegetable Animals. Do you think I should get out more???
Last year the South Shropshire Hunt sent a wagon load of fox hounds which were quite interactive - peeing against anything that didn't move and snarfing burgers from out of the mouths of small children. But variety's the thing and this year the Morris Men and their womenfolk provided 'entertainment'. Morris Dancing is surely a very English thing - although I suspect, as we know it now, a largely manufactured tradition. They shook their bells and clattered their sticks and danced to the music of Olde Englande. All very energetic and Good Clean Fun.
And that, I suppose is the essence of The Vron Gate Show - nothing offensive*, just the buzz of a village getting together on a Saturday afternoon.
*Unless in these namby-pamby, politically correct days you count the Punch and Judy Show.