Cheshire County Show chairman Tony Garnett on his passion for the Knutsford event
PUBLISHED: 11:56 08 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:10 20 February 2013
It might be a two-day event but the Cheshire County Show is a year in the making for chairman Tony Garnett
Farming and family are at the heart of everything in Tony Garnetts life. His nearest and dearest get stuck into jobs around Clay Bank Farm and - as Chairman of the Cheshire County Show - he can call on them for support when he needs them most. I really couldnt do all the work and perform my duties without their support, said Tony.
Both roles - as farm owner and show chairman - demand his attention all year round. The show may only be a two-day event, but it is never far from his mind, even in the depths of winter.
His priority is to ensure the show retains its agricultural roots and last year demand for agricultural stands outstripped supply so there will be more than ever in 2011. Entries into cattle and beef categories are rising all the time and last year the poultry section was given national championship status.
Last June, a record 80,000 visitors flocked to the Cheshire showground near Knutsford in the shows 172nd year.
There are more than 300 volunteers who help make the show an annual success. Among them is Tony, 66, who lives in nearby Allostock, along with his wife Pamela, sons Ian, Edward, Andrew and daughter Fiona. Like Tony, his family all give their time for free with wife Pamela, working on behind-the-scenes aspects of the show all year round.
Since taking on the farm in 1970, the Garnetts have bought more land and gone from 29 cows to nearly 1,000 head of dairy stock. They have also set up Garnett Farms Engineering.
Come showtime, Pamela is on hand to help and to chaperone guests of honour to ensure they meet different exhibitors every year. Those visits are important for the public, they can really help make the people feel an even greater part of the show, said Pamela.
Sons Ian, 40, and Edward, 36, also play a vital role with their commitment to health and safety issues. They monitor the show rings and make sure everyone adheres to the rules. Youngest sibling Andrew, 33, also gets stuck in by helping put together show stands.
For former NFU chairman Tony, the two-day show is the result of months of meetings, negotiations and getting his hands dirty. No matter what event Im at Im always talking about and promoting the Cheshire County Show, he said.
Tony has been involved for more than 30 years, starting as a parking attendant when the show was at Tatton Park. He is currently on 20 sub-committees and tries to attend all their meetings to maintain an overview of the work that is going on.
But he also does physical work such as marking out the showground and on show days he has a change of uniform at the ready. I take a boiler suit with me on show days in case I am needed to do any other jobs, he said.
You worry about it all going well on the day, but then you get the pleasure of seeing everyone enjoying themselves and learning about farming so that makes all the worry worthwhile.