Turra Show – By Duncan Harley


Turriff’s resident population of 5,743 received a welcome boost over the weekend of 4th and 5th this August 2013 when the 149th annual Turriff Show was held at the Haughs just outside of the town centre. The Turra Show as it is called locally is one of the highlights of the farming and agricultural year in the North East of Scotland and quite rightly so.
Farming folk from all over the UK descend on the town during the show weekend seeking livestock prizes, farming machinery and quite frankly lots of fun. Bargains are struck, tractors and combines are purchased and, just occasionally, wedding matches are made just as they have been for the last one and a half centuries of the Turra Show’s history.

With a claimed total of over 802 horse and pony entries plus some 43 goats on the Sunday and over 450 cattle, 580 sheep including the return of the Bluefaced Leicester Progeny Show sheep, Turra Show is perhaps the biggest show of its kind in Scotland still going strong after a century and a half of such traditional agricultural shows.


The “Open Dog Show” on the Sunday, complete with the ever popular rabbit and cavy sections which are now affiliated and upgraded to 2 star official status, plus the poultry and the popular “Companion Dog “ on the Monday make for an completely irresistible event for the non agricultural breeders and pet fanciers of the area. The quite exciting sideshows, funfair and extreme catering franchises also make Turra a Mecca for those seeking a weekend of bacchanalian beer and wine soaked revelry.

With over 249 trade stands, a very well attended food fayre plus the indoor shopping mall to tour around, Turra Show is a family fun filled affair indeed. The show exhibition hall with its ‘lifestyle theme’ and the ever popular home cookery demonstrations will as always attract the homemakers amongst us and why not. Those amongst us who are seeking extreme fun should head for that “special forestry area” and the “special educational area” in order to entertain and perhaps educate the children amongst us.

The Industrial Marquee at Turra Show is one of the largest in the country with over 1745 home based craft exhibits plus an excellent horticultural show featuring some quite large home grown turnips and a few enormous home grown marrows to salivate over.

The Turriff Show is always a veritable feast and a huge fun weekend for all the family. Each of the two show days has an extensive ringside entertainment programme with many special attractions including in 2013, the awesome “Quad and Motorcycle Flying Daredevil Stunt Show” by Jason Smythe’s Adrenaline Tour.

Jason comes from a professional racing background in Motocross. He started competing when he was seven, then progressed from multiple regional champion to British schoolboy champion, British amateur support class winner and then on to “turn pro” at the age of eighteen. In the professional ranks he has competed in all three classes at World Championship, 125cc, 250cc and 500cc and the World Supercross Tour as well as becoming Luxemburg national champion. At Turriff, Jason thrilled the crowd by powering his quad bike over 31ft in the air above his articulated rig before landing safely accompanied by loud applause.


Turra’s family day on Sunday featured some pretty exciting Terrier Racing with Cyril the Squirrel, fine sulky trotting, pony carriage driving and of course the famous Turriff Pipe Band.


The grand finale on the Sunday at Turriff Showground was as always the Vintage Tractor and Vehicle Parade featuring agricultural vehicles from the past 97 years or so including vintage Ferguson Tractors plus the local “Anderson” collection of Sergeant Major Tractors. A sight to salivate over indeed!

On Turra Monday the Parade of Champions was as always the finest finale to what must be the finest surviving agricultural show in the North East of Scotland.


Norman Christie of Woodside Croft, Kinnellar, Aberdeenshire came best of show in the 2012 Turra Show with his Clydesdale Anguston Amber and in this years show Norman’s quite majestic Amber Anguston came show best reserve.
This year’s best of show was Arradoul Ellie May from Buckie owned by Ian Young. The cattle “Aberdeen Angus” section was headed by Idevies Kollar of Ellon and the British Blonde champian was Whistley Dollar entered by former Turra Show chief Eric Mutch. The sheep and goats also won prizes but were unnamed as were the cavies.

Turriff of course gained international fame almost one hundred years ago as the Scottish town which stubbornly resisted Lloyd George’s National Insurance Act with all of its provisions for medical and unemployment benefits for farm workers and their families. Both the Liberal government of Lloyd George and the Marxists of the time rallied against the stance of Robert Patterson of Lendrum Farm who perhaps unwittingly became both the focus and the willing local hero of this often humorous but politically quite sad affair. That of course is another side of the Turriff of years gone by.


The anniversary of the Turra Coo is fast approaching though.

But that’s another story.


About Duncan Harley

Author, photographer and feature writer.
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