Friday, 11 September 2009

Sunshine, thousands of visitors, but poor Media

THE sun does shine on the righteous after all!
Westmorland County Show, one of Britain’s oldest and Cumbria's biggest livestock shows, attracted a record 29,000 visitors who bathed in wall to wall sunshine – not a cloud in the sky – yesterday (Thursday 10th of September 2009), at Lane Farm, Crooklands, Kendal, Cumbria.
The formidable Christine Knipe, chief executive of Westmorland County Agricultural Society, which hosts and organises the show, and her army of helpers made a magnificent job of it.
For once there were no major distractions. There was no animal horror disease, the sun shone and even the visiting government minister knew something about agriculture.
Huw Iranca-Davies is the first Labour agriculture minister for many years who actually has farms in his constituency, in Wales.
He made predictably positive noises about locally produced food and knew enough about less positive aspects of farming, like milk prices, to fend off the odd probing questions. He will have gone back south with his ears ringing with the farmers’ vested interests, however.
Highlights included the Cumbria Axemen, a chainsaw gang attacking huge logs, and, following their highly successful first visit last year, the Sheep Show was again on hand to entertain and educate visitors.
Livestock included Cattle, Sheep, pigs, Goats, Horses, Poultry, Hounds, Dogs and Rare Breeds, together with Alpaca classes making their second appearance in 2009.
The bizarrely garbed Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling and birds of prey graced the display rings.
Women’s Institute, Learning for Life and Craft Marquees did a roaring trade, and with more than 350 trade stands, and the area’s largest local products Food Hall with special demonstrators and Celebrity Chefs, there was plenty to keep the visitors entertained.
Indeed as most of the visitors left the show-ground they sang the praises of the “fantastic” show, with many of the early starters staggering out at lunch-time, flushed with the heat and staggering under the weight of their purchases.
The trade stands which invested in staff to woo the punters seemed to do extremely well, so it is not just the day’s sales that count, but also the leads and long-term marketing opportunities.
The only black spots were the traffic, with some visitors, particularly those from Lancashire and further South complaining of two-hour waits on the Motorway, and the media coverage.
National media don’t bother or even understand. Local Radio Cumbria had a scaled down presence. Regional TV were noticeable by their absence. And most strangely of all The Westmorland Gazette, which now comes out on a Thursday completely ignored the show in that day's edition, even though it had a stand hoping to sell hundreds of copies.
And the internet coverage was even worse. By lunch time on Friday there was not one word of narrative or one single result on the web-sites of Radio Cumbria, The Westmorland Gazette or even the Westmorland County Agricultural Society. First up was The Gazette at 1.36 pm on Friday.
When the Gazette printed on a Friday it managed to get the full results in the pages of the paper on sale from 4 a.m. on the day after the show (Friday).
The faster the technology, the slower the service, it seems.
Never mind the media, if the County Show could guarantee the sort of weather it had in 2009, it could guarentee the title of best show in the North, and possibly with the demise of the Royal Show, the best show in England.

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