Painting the friesians blue…

I was looking through some old copies of FW yesterday and came across the interview I’d done with one of the chaps from the Royal Agricultural Society of England last year.

I did the interview the day after it’d been announced that the Royal Show, once the jewel in the crown of agricultural shows, was no more. He reckoned people weren’t interested in a major ag show and there just wasn’t an audience for such events in England.

I remember thinking at the time that this was nonsense and that RASE just hadn’t struck on the right attraction to get people flocking to the show. Well, thanks to my Aussie twitter chum, Big Norm, I now know where the answer lies. Robots.

Check out the things that are going to be at Sydney’s agricultural Easter Show next month:

He eats cars!

Ok, so I know I’m being flippant, but this show attracts 900,000 visitors over two weeks – fire-breathing robots are undoubtedly a pull, but once at the showground there seems to be loads of great farming content that’s obviously appealing to the public.

How the chap from RASE I spoke to reckoned people wouldn’t be interested in a milking display or a petting area, I’ll never know. While they might not like it and think it’s dumbing down, people in charge of shows and farming organisations have to realise there’s such a massive disconnect between food production and the public that they have to start with stuff that grabs the attention and then move up from there.

I spoke to the very lovely Judith from Mr Moos Icecream in East Yorkshire earlier today, and she said kids who visited her farm this week were astonished milk came from cows (and that they weren’t blue, like this one). I assume she set them straight and she’s not decided to give her friesians a lick of paint instead…

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4 Responses to “Painting the friesians blue…”

  1. Mike

    I went to a brilliant show in Paris the other week. It was in about five to six different halls, with one having live milking displays, as well as a livestock show ring, and the lines of various animals / breeds. A second hall was much more dedicated to arable crops, and had lots of fun, interactive elements to entice the public.

    But what really made it work, I think, for the general public, were the other halls, which concentrated on different foods from around Europe, around lots of various French regions, including the French colonies (for want of a better word).

    It just made the connect between the animals and people’s food so much stronger. And there was not a craft stall in sight (well, maybe one or two, but it certainly wasn’t the focus!).

  2. William

    I remember that article, partly because of the quality journalistic abilities which were blatently obvious but also because of the spin and rubbish being coming from the chairman.
    The RASE failed to see the opportunities and strengths that they had at their disposal and preferred to live in the days when the visitors doffed their flat caps to the trustees.
    My blood pressure is rising again, I was quoted in FW at the time something about being ashamed of themselves and off with their heads.

  3. Rob

    Stuff the Ag content I want Blue Cow. The Ag shows in Australia have no Ag. Theres the remnants of the show ring for the die hards but the reality is farming is such a business now that it’s hard to express in a show and tell the way farming is now done. The easy way is to present the way it was. Then we back ourselves into a corner because then people expect to see their milk coming from Don with his ten cows being hand-milked and are then shock when they find out different. If you want to bring farming to the people then show them the auto milkers and the super dairy’s not Don and his cows. Robosaurus helps.

  4. Caroline

    What do you mean, no ag content? It has show-jumping bunnies and Smoky the diving pig!
    Ok, I know these things are never going to be true to life, but isn’t it better to have children at least knowing what a cow looks like (I work at city farms in London now and again and some of the kids who visit haven’t a clue what a cow is) and knowing that it produces milk. What’s stopping Don going along to a show with a few cows, but there also being an automatic milker, a video or some kind of display board which explains a bit more about what milk production and farming’s really like? Perhaps Don could even talk to people to explain what milking’s like in the real world?!
    I think a lot of people in the industry (myself included) forget just how utterly clueless some of the urban public are when it comes to knowing about where their food comes from – it’d be great to get people to understand about why super dairies are being planned, but – frustratingly – you have to start at the bottom and work up to things like that.

    Heck, what do I know. I just want to see a robot dinosaur eat a car.