Recently I went to Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace. This was my first visit and it was an impressive event.
Spread across the beautiful Oxfordshire estate of the Duke of Marlborough it could hardly fail to satisfy country lovers as the expansive show was nestled amongst the trees and lake set against the backdrop of the magnificent palace.
On my first attempt to cover the site I was convinced I would never manage to see everything in a day, and of course I didn’t. There were loads of talks and demonstrations and workshops taking place and it was impossible to attend everything. But I did manage to cover the ground on foot and at least look or walk past everything on offer and this included a four wheel drive course, canoeing, the Wildlife Zone, Morris dancing, family fishing, a zip wire and a dog lovers arena plus tonnes of food, shopping and clothing stands..
The presenters from the Countryfile television programme were of course all there, taking part in discussions but also making them available across the site. And Adam Henson, probably the most popular of the presenters judging by the queues around him, had his very own area of the show at Adam’s Farm, which was where the majority of the animals at the show were located. In here we could see pigs, horses, sheep, goats, hens and rabbits as well as Adam himself, signing copies of his books and posing for photographs with his adoring fans.
Although farmers and the farming community could easily enjoy this show, I did feel, as a stalwart of many a county show, that this one was geared more towards the general public. There wasn’t the feel of business being done here by farmers. But having said that, there were many very valid talks taking place and I rather wish I’d had the time to attend them all. NFU president Minette Batters was in conversation with Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs talking about farming post Brexit; and there was a discussion about the loss of productive farm land to housing.
In addition to the big farming names there were many other well known faces taking part in the event including journalist Jeremy Paxman, chef James Martin and BBC weather lady Carol Kirkwood.