Frolics and firkins at farming fete

Being a journalist does not always mean being constantly on the lookout for hard news stories (although the best reporters have a subconscious awareness for news even when they’re not looking for it).

There are times when you can relax, such as an evening at the theatre.

There are also annual events, and for weekly newspaper reporters one of the best is an agricultural show.

I was reminded today, by my former mentor and colleague Elwyn Edwards, of the annual Flint and Denbigh show held just outside Rhyl at Cwybr Farm.

This one day event, usually held in August, had everything from displays of farming equipment, including tractors, hay balers etc., to livestock ranging from rabbits to mighty shire horses.

For the journos, however, the focal point for the day was not, as some might think, the beer tent but instead the press tent.

That is not to say that the press tent was devoid of alcohol – the odd firkin and a few crates of beer were generally tucked under the trestle tables where the portable typewriters were ready from early morning to late afternoon ready for the reporters to bash out their copy all day long.

The junior in the team often had to go and collect results from the competitions: best bull; fluffiest bunny; prize porkers; biggest marrow; tastiest sponge cake; and lambs frolicking in their pens.

The seniors would take an occasional stroll to garner any major stories, and to visit some of the corporate displays where they were often treated to a dram of whiskey or a gin sling.

Press tent at the Flint and Denbigh (possibly 60s). From the left: Bob Hewitt, photographer; Pat Durkin(?) reporter; Bill Prandle, sports editor; Brian Barratt, editor Rhyl Journal; extreme right Glyn Robert, one of the best press photographers I have known; and, finally, Elwyn Edwards, probably one of the earliest photo bombers, here doing an impression of a disembodied head, a great chief reporter.

By mid-afternoon the journalists’ copy often needed double-, even triple-checking as the alcoholic haze spread through the press tent.

At the end of the day the farmers and show organisers were delighted with the newspaper reports of the shows, the competions and the pages of prize winners with photos as well as stories.

Agricultural shows were a grand day out and a good way to fill the pages for our group’s papers which spread across North Wales.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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