by Meyrick Brown

Come the middle of August each year most farm work is set aside for a few days – so, with excited anticipation (not least among the scores of the primary school children who are in receipt of a one-day pass) the family have a rare opportunity to socialise and meet up with old friends at the Pembrokeshire County Show.

But as retiring president of the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society will report to its annual meeting, things didn't go quite to plan in 2017.

At the pre-show’s religious service on the Sunday evening members and friends were all in high spirits enjoying a terrific occasion together but, by Monday afternoon as the exhibitors were putting the final lick of paint to their trade stands and the prime livestock entries were pouring in, the showground experienced probably the wettest pre-show days on record.

Richard Cole, in the society’s annual report, states that as dawn broke on the first show day the officials and stewards were faced with a main ring as a quagmire, all the grassed parking areas for the public were ruled out of service and every square meter of available tarmac runways had to be hastily brought into use.

A hurriedly revised programme meant that some of the intended parades of horses and cattle in the main judging arenas and the popular displays of vintage tractors and machinery had to be cancelled as were a number of the top horse jumping events so as not to cause injury to horses and riders.

Of the show itself several innovations were introduced and there are others in the pipeline. Richard – a dairy farmer from Llanboidy, near Whitland, who grew up within sight and sound of the County Showground at Tangiers, expresses the hope that many of the changes that are being introduced this year will help to recover some of the absent livestock exhibitors from 2017.

The Cole family have always retained a close connection with the Pembrokeshire Show and Richard was very proud to have followed in the footsteps of his late father, Campbell Cole, who served as president in 1978.

Standing down as president at the society’s annual general meeting tonight (Wednesday, 4 April), he will be succeeded by Haverfordwest publican, Brian Harries of the Bristol Trader.

Brian Harries, 65, married to Margaret, grew up farming near Solva, becoming an able public speaker and, taking the role of county YFC chairman, progressed into broadcasting, travelling widely and is estimated to have helped raise more than £500,000 for various charities.

He is a member of the Haverfordwest Round Table and Haverfordwest Rotary Club. He is also the chairman of Pembrokeshire Friends of Prostate Cymru and a committee member of the Pembrokeshire Cystic Fibrosis Society.

The 2018 County Agricultural Show is being held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, August 14-16.