This annual exhibition of produce, livestock and skilled craftsmanship by the local community of Slaley and surrounding districts has seen many changes in its history; it has continued to survive and prosper nevertheless, to become one of the best village shows in Northumberland. Successive generations have worked hard to maintain the Victorian tradition of an annual ‘get-together’ of local people competing in friendly rivalry, or simply chatting over a cup of tea and a sandwich.
It began life in 1845 as the Slaley and Hexhamshire Floral and Horticultural Society Show, but by 1870 it was known as the Annual Sunday School Festival and Flower Show, and in 1902 it changed its name again to Slaley Flower, Butter and Poultry Show. It has changed venue from the Stanegarth Garden, behind Orchard House and behind the Rose & Crown, to its present location at Townhead in 1916. Similarly. the number and types of classes have changed over time; initially only flowers, vegetables, bread and eggs were shown, with animals being restricted to best dressed chickens! Gradually, classes for sheep, calves, poultry, goats and more recently alpacas were introduced, whilst the industrial (or should that be industrious?) section, encompassing everything from baking to photography, knitting to stick dressing, goes from strength to strength, attracting over 1000 entries in 2013.
Competitive sports have always proved popular, whether motor cycles or terrier racing, children’s games or the spills and thrills of the horse and pony classes, which now attracts competitors from far afield.
In its long history, the show has faced many setbacks and some cancellations (two World Wars, Foot and Mouth outbreaks in 1966 and 2001, heavy rain in 1956, 2004 and 2011). Each successive committee has not panicked, but simply soldiered on, knowing it has a long and rich tradition to maintain and enhance wherever possible.