The countryside was a very different place in 1962 when the first Cattistock Countryside show was held.

The world was different.

Only 25 years previous Cattistock itself got electricity for the first time. The Sunday Times became the first paper to print in colour. Neil Armstrong was yet to walk on the moon. And the Beatles had only just got together.

The winter of 1962 was one of the worst on record. The Frome river froze solid in many places and some villages were so badly cut off that they required deliveries via helicopter from Portland Naval base. Those who lived through it described it as true British Dunkirk spirit all over again.

A lot might’ve changed in 58 years but this spirit of country people banding together in times of crisis has not left us. We are living in very troubled times. But the countryside has stayed strong.

It’s this strength that we wanted to celebrate with this year’s show. In a time when so many shows have cancelled, we wanted to do something to give back and bring people together (at a distance of course).

The result was last Sunday. A jolly community day that brought laughter and hilarity, and a touch of confusion, back to the Frome valley.

At times, certainly for us, it might’ve seemed nothing short of chaos. It all seemed such a great idea at the time – host a show across five miles and four separate farms – what could be easier….we thought. In hindsight, lunatics and vagabonds wouldn’t have been as foolish.

But somehow it worked. The sun shone, and, bar a few lost walkers and escapee sheep, everything came together as if it was planned.

We achieved what we set out to achieve. A championing of the elements of our show that are important to us: great craftsmanship (Crafty Cattistock – Pod 1), delicious local produce and traditional farming practice (Bounty of the County – Pod 2), rural fun (Agy Sports – Pod 3) and rural pursuits (Fayre Game – Pod 4). Giving each of these their own space to flourish meant we could really focus on each and give our all to celebrating them – when a spirit of revival is so desperately needed from the trauma of the pandemic.

Flies were cast, hounds were shown, wellies were wanged, and we even managed to raise a bit for the Air Ambulance. Unlike the winter of 1962, we didn’t need a helicopter (thankfully), but we managed to give a bit towards another that saves lives.

We can only apologise to those completely bamboozled by an overtly cryptic treasure hunt, or those still out there now counting mice…..

We will announce winners very soon and we thank you all for getting stuck in!

It’s difficult to know where to begin with thank yous. The army of incredible volunteers who gave up so much time and energy to ensure the day went ahead. The fantastically kind sponsors who supported the day even when they weren’t clear what shape the day would take. The gorgeous traders who came along despite knowing we’d have far smaller numbers than our regular show. And of course, all those of you who came, played along, forgave the mishaps and made our celebration of country life a proper party.

We can’t thank you enough.

Would we follow the same format and do it again? Who knows? All we know is in these times when all is so uncertain and hung in the balance one thing is for definite: we will be back next year, with the same dogged determination and something just as real and rural no matter what state the world is in.

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