Royal Manx Agricultural Show 2016
Horses, farm animals, cookery competitions, arts and crafts, local producers, and a fun family day out
I remember the first Royal Manx that I visited way back in 2010. It was before I started setting up my own stall at the show so it was a fun and relaxing day of petting draft horses and watching demonstrations. There was live milking, butter making, lumberjack displays, and of course the Ducks of Hazzard, a hilarious performance of duckly daring with creative commentation. I hadn’t laughed so hard in ages.
These days I set up shop as Lovely Greens Handmade and what I don’t see at my stall, I usually don’t see at all. This year was a little different though and I was able to get out for half an hour to see what else was going on. It was a mad dash around the field but I did see a lot and meet a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while. I also spotted some really interesting food and crafts that locals are producing on the Isle of Man.
Owls from the wildlife park
Before I went walkabout I had some memorable visitors to my stall. I was absolutely delighted that Pepsi, a barn owl, and Ugg, a spectacled owl, dropped by for a hello. They both live at the Curraghs Wildlife Park and were wandering around with their caretaker with an eager crowd of fans in hot pursuit.
Both seemed to enjoy the attention and I feel privileged to have had the experience of holding Pepsi. He’s 13 years old and a gentle old boy at that. You won’t believe how soft his feathers are.
Sheep dressed as bees and goats dressed like sheep
Also near my stall was the ‘Meg Lamb’ competition. Meg lambs are orphans that are raised on the bottle and this particular fancy dress display paired lambs with their child handlers. There were blue lambs, starred lambs, fiesty lambs, and best of all honeybee lambs.
The honeybee lamb above is a Manx Loughtan, a local breed that can grow four or more horns. It didn’t seem to mind wearing fluffy yellow bands and fairy wings at all.
Isle of Man Goats had one of the best stalls at the show
Just across from me was the Farmers Market and by the looks of things, they had a great weekend. At the end of their u-shaped pitch Isle of Man Goats set up two enclosed areas with goats that you could pet.
Arthur is an Angora goat and I think just over three years old. I met him the first time when I visited his farm back in 2014 to see all of the babies born that spring. Angora goats have silky, curly wool that is spun into Mohair – probably the softest wool I’ve ever felt.
Local produce at the Farmers Market
It was lovely to see the ladies I used to work with at the farmers market including Suzie, who was over the moon at selling out of all of her home-baked cakes, and Sheila, who I have to be sneaky with getting a photo of. Sheila Gawne is the force behind the Farmers Den shop just south of Castletown. They sell homegrown produce and eggs from their farm shop.
Aside from raising wool-goats, Clare from Isle of Man Goats also raises Boers, which are meat goats. I’ve never tried goat before but bought four oregano quarter pounders from her over the weekend. The verdict – delicious. Plus I know that each and every animal on her farm receives the best care, space, and attention possible.
Wooden Spoon Making
I’m always fascinated to see how things are made, so seeing Greenwood Crafts at work making spoons got my attention. I’ve never eaten with a wooden spoon but I have a few that I use in the kitchen for stirring pots and making stir fries. Seeing a utensil emerge from a piece of wood was almost magical.
I use wooden cutting boards and spoons in the kitchen but would like to use more. Each piece evolves with age and develops such a beautiful patina.
Sea Glass Pendants by Eve Kelly
My friend Eve makes the most beautiful sea glass necklaces. I first bought one from her in the Manx Wildlife Trust shop several years ago before we even met. At Tynwald Day I bought another and now over the weekend I bought a third as a gift.
Eve combs the beaches around her home in Port St Mary and uses her sea jewels to create one of a kind pieces. I love her new style of pairing glass with a small silver charm and have been encouraging her to start up an Etsy shop. She doesn’t have much time for that at the moment but will happily show and sell her pieces to anyone who gets in touch with her direct.
Lack of food options at the Royal Manx
The one gripe about the Royal Manx that I heard time after time from people coming to my stand was the lack of warm food options at the show. For some unfathomable reason the show limits the food vendors to just a handful of ice cream vans and bap trailers so Betty Pie Company had to sell their handmade pies cold and Dave’s Delicious Dogs had to sell their hotdogs frozen.
Queues of 45 minutes to get food
On the other hand, the show’s organisers have their own tent selling food and drink. Unfortunately the queues to order were sometimes 45 minutes long and the choice in selection was disappointing to some people. One of my customers said she walked away after waiting half an hour when she realised it was only basics like cheese toasties.
It’s an unfortunate decision to try to limit local vendors from selling their own warm food and it made a lot of people very unhappy and very hungry.
A successful weekend for Lovely Greens
For me the weekend was another success. I sold a lot of soap, a lot of candles, and also spoke to dozens of people about my soapmaking lessons. Places are filling up quickly and it seems that the weeks before Christmas are going to be slammed again. It’s incredible to think that now in mid-August I know my life is going to be go-go-go until the 25th of December. I enjoy working hard though and will be more than pleased to show a lot more people how to make their own soap this year!
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