Echoes of past glories on eve of 2019 farming showcase

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The 2019 Mid Argyll Show offers a modern family day out – but the event has roots which run deep.

There are many fantastic attractions for 2019, including a dog show, vintage tractor displays, horse classes, home baking competitions, prosecco bar, mini rugby and a spectacular bike stunt team display.

But the heart and soul of Mid Argyll Show remains with the farm livestock.

The earliest records reveal that Mid Argyll Show goes back as far as 1887, but there is little doubt that local farmers were proudly exhibiting their finest animals for many decades before then.

The mysterious cup discovered a Tayvallich house, with its horse-decorated lid.

Two trophies have recently come to light which date back to the earliest years of Mid Argyll shows, and while there are gaps in their history they have fascinating stories to tell.

Furnace resident George Johnston comes from a family with a long farming tradition in Mid Argyll. Among many livestock show medals and farming documents in his possession is a trophy which can only be described as unusual.

It was presented in 1891 by J & W Greig Wool brokers, Glasgow to the Argyle (sic) Cattle Show for the Best Blackfaced Shearling Tup. The trophy takes the form of two cattle horns with a small brass gong strung between them, complete with leather-bound striking mallet.

‘I wanted to let the show committee see the trophy because it demonstrates how long the show has been going,’ explained George.

George Johnston with just two of his Hamilton ancestor’s medals for sheep and horses.

The trophy, along with the many medals, were presented to the Hamilton family, who farmed at Crear, Kilberry from at least 1815 until the early 1930s.

‘The Hamiltons were on my great grandmothers side,’ George explained.

‘They were keen on showing Clydesdale horses and blackface sheep in particular, and took great pride in it.’

Another venerable trophy was handed to the Mid Argyll Show committee by Sheila MacCallum. A horse enthusiast and past president of Mid Argyll Show, Sheila was given the trophy by Tayvallich woman Annie Logie, who discovered the rather beaten-up and tarnished trophy in a house belonging to a recently-deceased relative of hers.

The cup has a small horse modelled on the lid of the trophy, so Annie thought Sheila might be interested. A plaque with the cup is inscribed: ‘Kilmartin Show 1894. Won by A McNicol, for Best Foal by Glasgow Pearl.’

The tradition of showing continues in Mid Argyll

The house in which it was found, Tigh na Croit, was occupied by Donald Burgess, who had been a blacksmith, as was his father.

Sheila explained: ‘Blacksmiths would always have a few horses about them. Farmers. too, would keep some breeding mares ro replace their horses, so perhaps that’s where the connection with Glasgow Pearl – probably a breeding stallion – came from.’

If you want to witness some of the best 21st century livestock Mid Argyll has to offer, judging will start around 9am on Saturday August 10.