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Classes stay the same, but the prizes...

Arrangements in a cup and saucer at Howick Village Show. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
Arrangements in a cup and saucer at Howick Village Show. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Show schedules and newspaper reports from the 1800s confirm that flower shows have changed very little in basic content.

An 1859 edition of The Alnwick Journal recorded of Warkworth’s first show: “A multitude gathered together and listened to the melodies of the militia band.”

At the 1884 show it wrote: “The Broomhill band played a selection of pieces during the afternoon.”

For 2018 we have the return of Alnwick Playhouse Band.

The Warkworth Show schedule of 1878 rated dahlias as the top flower. First prize for a vase of six, three dissimilar, was five shillings (25p).

Some 140 years later, they still reign supreme. The current schedule demands four vases, three blooms in each, with first, second and third prizes of £30, £20 and £10 respectively.

The same schedule had a list of 30 extra prizes donated by people living in the area. Some were monetary, but the others make interesting reading.

John Shotton gave an ox tongue for the best three heads of beet, Mr Waters offered an oil painting for best six roses, and the winner of the best window plant received 1lb of tea from Miss Howey and a fruit loaf from Mr Fawcuss.

The best two summer cabbages received ¾lb of tobacco, and a hay fork went to the best six spring onions.

It is to be hoped that the winner of ‘four gladioluses, dissimilar’ was strong because first prize was two stones of flour.

Those were the days.

When the crowds converge on Warkworth Castle on August 18, entertainment outside the main marquee, from 10am to 4pm, includes fun with your dog, a fun run, children’s fancy dress and music. There’s also a food court and a bar.

The doggie offering is always popular, with classes such as waggiest tail, terrier racing in the moat, best fancy-dressed dog and owner, and dog the judge would most like to take home.

The fun run is well supported by families. It starts in the castle, heads off towards the nearby River Coquet and finishes in the moat – which is dry, of course.