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Freda takes a trip down show memory lane

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By Fiona Reid
Nostalgia
Freda takes a trip down show memory lane

A HISTORY of agricultural society shows in Dumfries and Galloway in the 19th century has been published.

“Old Shows and More” is the first book by Freda H Hastings and is a treasure trove of information on the past.

She became interested in the subject through her longstanding involvement with Dumfries and Lockerbie Show, of which she was trophy convenor for 12 years.

Freda said: “Agricultural shows have always been there and we have no recorded history apart from archived newspapers. I became interested in the older cups and societies, and no one could tell me about them.

“I have put together a collection of newspaper reports that tell the story of agricultural shows, the town of Dumfries, and the people involved in Dumfries and Galloway in the 19th century. To fully understand show days of old you have to look at the town, the show site, and means of getting there, and this was, in the first half of the century, by foot, horse or by boat.”

Her book is based on many accounts from newspapers of the time and she said: “Over the century many reporters witnessed these events, and described with great detail the show location, age, and activities. With their descriptive text we are able to visualise the show yards and the bustle of people, with their knowledge and attention to detail we have gained a vast amount of extra information, and their opinions. They also had the ability to record every word, and include the mood of the company, at meetings, lectures and after dinner speeches, they were extremely professional people.”

Freda has covered local shows, as well as the Union and Highland shows, up to 1907. Some of them, such as Annan Show, Dalbeattie and Nithsdale, no longer exist, despite being prominent in their day.

It’s her first book and has taken hours of research but she’s delighted with the end result, adding: “It’s a huge amount of information, I learned a lot. The journey has been amazing.

“It was a subject not written about but DG’s work in showing is now on record.”

A copy has been presented to the Royal Highland Show Society and will be filed in their archives.

“Old Shows and More” can be purchased from Tarff Valley Stores as a show promotion book at Dumfries, Ringford, Glenluce and Castle Kennedy and also at Kilnford Farm Shop.

The price includes a donation to Dumfries Show, which is going ahead this summer after an absence of two years.

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