Two special visitors will be attending Stafford Farmers’ Market on Saturday 14th March to help promote the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses, which takes place at Staffordshire Showground a few days later.
Shire horses Casey and Bernie will be taking part in a meet and greet with shoppers between 10.30am and 12.30pm – with their handlers explaining more about the big event being staged at Bingley Hall from 20th to 22nd March.
Among those who will be welcoming the Shire horses to the town are the Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Gareth Jones, and the Mayoress of Stafford Borough, Councillor Renee Robinson.
Up to 250 Shire horses from across Europe are expected to attend the three-day show, which is open to the public and provides a fascinating day out for all the family.
Alongside the showing classes which feature Shire horses dressed in all their finery, there are also stable tours, farrier demonstrations, an animal petting area, a museum showcasing horse drawn vehicles and implements, and trade and other stands.
This year, for the first time, the Shire Horse Society is offering free admission to children when accompanied by a paying adult on Sunday 22nd March – which coincides with Mother’s Day.
But, ahead of the main event, visitors to Stafford Farmers’ Market during the morning of Saturday 14th March can find out more about Shires and what they can expect at the show.
“We’re delighted that Shire horses Casey and Bernie are trotting into Stafford the weekend before our show starts to help spread the news about our flagship event,” said Shire Horse Society secretary Victoria Clayton.
“Shire horses are magnificent animals and yet they are still an endangered breed and on the ‘at risk’ register, so we welcome any opportunity to promote Shires and our national show, which is the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses.
“Our show is believed to be one of the oldest, almost continuous, horse shows in the world, having been held for the first time at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, London, in 1878, when the charity was named the English Cart Horse Society. This is the fifth year that the show has been held at Staffordshire Showground, and we’ve always had a warm welcome from the area.
“We hope that lots of local people will join us as we celebrate this amazing breed of horse, which has been so important in the history of Great Britain.”
Shire horses Casey and Bernie are owned by Steve Ledsham, from Shropshire-based Shire and Carriage Horses which provides Shire horses for weddings, experience days, funerals, TV programmes and other occasions. Steve, who has been involved with working horses since the early 1970s, provides the services of a traditional jobmaster who, historically would have owned horses, vehicles and harnesses, and hired them out to individuals and companies. For more than 20 years, he has worked with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s Victorian Town at Blists Hill to provide the historic interpretation of the working horse using a variety of vehicles, show harnessing demonstrations and provide rides for visitors.
Councillor Frances Beatty, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning, at Stafford Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Shire Horse Society to Stafford Farmers’ Market on Saturday 14 March.
“Shire horses have played a key role in farming, as well as several other traditional industries, over history so it’s very appropriate that they will be joining us at the Farmers’ Market – giving shoppers and visitors to Stafford the chance to find out more about these horses, and of course the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses, at the Staffordshire Showground the following weekend.”
Tickets for the National Shire Horse Show are discounted in advance from the Shire Horse Society. Prices for adults are £10 in advance or £12 on the gate. Ticket prices for children aged five to 13 years are £8 in advance, or £10 on the gate. Family tickets (two adults and two children) are £32 in advance or £40 on the gate. Under fives are free. Car parking is £2, payable on the day only.
Children will gain free Sunday admission with an adult paying admission to the show.
For more information and tickets please visit: www.shire-horse.org.uk/national-show.
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