Northumberland Young Farmers’ annual rally returns to Alnwick after 10 years and fittingly, organisers Alnwick Young Farmers’ club have chosen a Harry Potter theme.
The Duke of Northumberland, patron of the Northumberland Young Farmers, has given permission for the rally to be held at Park Farm, within the spectacular Hulne Park.
Taking place this Saturday, more than 300 competitors aged between 10 and 26 will battle it out across a range of competitions for the much-sought-after rally trophy.
The event is the annual rendezvous for the young farming community across the county and is highly respected.
The rally is a test of established rural skills including floral art, sewing, baking, handicrafts, the pallet challenge, making an object from pallets, using carpentry and joinery skills, tractor-handling competitions and sheep shearing, supported by British Wool.
Jessica Straker, secretary of the Alnwick Young Farmers’ rally committee, said: “The Young Farmers’ annual rally is very much part of the rural heritage in Northumberland and it is an event that really encourages young people to take up skills which will build their foundations for their future rural lives.
“For those competing, it involves preparation, skill, team work and huge community spirit. As the key date in every Northumberland Young Farmers’ annual calendar, it is known as the big day of the year.
“Alnwick Young Farmers are very proud to be hosting it this year and on behalf of everyone, I would like to thank the Duke of Northumberland for his support.”
Jessica and Neil Milburn, chairman of Alnwick Young Farmers, are supported by a very strong committee comprising 35 current Young Farmers, and former Young Farmers.
Neil, who works at Easington Farm, at Belford, said: “This is a major event to organise and it would not be possible without the tremendous help and support we have received from so many individuals who have offered their time, knowledge and expertise, and of course the many local companies who have sponsored the rally.”
Young Farmers is in Jessica’s blood, competing in every Northumberland Young Farmers’ rally since she was 13.
For her, the highlight was when she won the Flower Arranging Cup and secured a place in the National Young Farmers’ final at Malvern Autumn Show.
Her low moment was last year. She had spent days preparing her entry in the picnic-for-two competition.
The judges’ points demonstrated that she had scooped first prize, however, on closer inspection, as she had not produced the correct size of recipe card, she was disqualified.
Jessica tells us what to expect. She said: “This year, we set the theme for the rally as Potter in the Parks, based on the filming at Alnwick Castle.
“On the day, there will be 88 Harry Potter-themed classes and courses, including a Quidditch competition – the details, however, are still being kept a secret.”
There are 10 clubs across Northumberland competing for the trophy.
As much as Alnwick would love to win it again, Jessica says the club has to be realistic.
She said: “We have a huge event to organise alongside competing, so if we were to make it to the final line-up of four, I think everyone would be delighted.
“The rally is a fun and exclusive day, pushing the boundaries.
“But there is something for everyone, from drama, to tug of war, singing to sewing.
“Whatever you are taking part in, one thing is absolutely guaranteed, you will have the time of your life and probably the most memorable day of the year.”