Show a pillar of the calendar for the Borders farming community

Sheep judging at last year's Border Union Agricultural Show.
Sheep judging at last year's Border Union Agricultural Show.

When the crowds flock to this month’s Border Union Show, they will enjoy an event much changed in scale and scope since that of 200 years ago.

Traditionally held on the last Friday and Saturday in July, this year’s show at Kelso’s Springwood Park will boast 2,023 entries in the livestock classes – just 87 less than the tally that set the show record in 2014.

This year the show boasts the UK Aberdeen Angus National Show, with 88 entries from as far away as Oxford and Inverness, and also the Scottish National Simmental Show, with 56 entries.

Sheep entries are more than 800, equine class numbers stand at 726, goats at 83 and there are 114 shepherds’ crooks, not to mention around 1,000 further entries from the Ladies’ Industrial Section, poultry and rabbit classes.

And with more than 250 trade stands, it is a far cry from the show of 1815, or those of 100, 50 and even just 25 years ago.

The first show was held in 1813, but there have been a number of years when it has been cancelled for various reasons, so 2015 will be the 184th such event.

‘Kelsae Show’ has been held at its Springwood Park te since the event was reinstated following the Second World War.

But in 1815 two shows were held in the Knowes, with one for cattle and horses in the spring and another for sheep in the autumn.

A century later, and with the Borders and the rest of the country coping with the trials and tribulations of the First World War, it was decided to cancel the show in 1915 and, ultimately, no shows were held during the years of the Great War.

In fact, the show would not resume until 1920.

In 1965, it was heavy rain that cause the Border Union Agricultural Society (BUAS) problems with considerable flooding in the days running up to the show.

The recently laid tarred roads through the showground made a massive difference.

But while the show days were dry, the field was very muddy, and the Saturday crowd of 10,000 was down by 2,500 on the previous year.

It was a different story 25 years later, when, in the July of 1990, glorious summer weather saw the show break a number of records.

Attendance on the Saturday topped 21,000, and over the two days was near 30,000.

BUAS secretary Ron Wilson says the show has become more than just the premier local showpiece for the Borders agricultural community.

“The show at Kelso is a pillar of the calendar for the Borders farming community, but one which has grown to encompass not only all that is best about Borders agriculture, but also highlights the importance of the wider rural economy, which plays such a vital part in Borders life,” he said.

“And while it has steadily grown over the years, what has not changed is the welcoming atmosphere enjoyed by everyone who comes through its gates.”

•The 2015 Border Union Show is at Springwood Park, Kelso, on Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25, from 8am both days.