The Hope Show
A group of notable farmers met on 12 March 1845 to form a society which had the emphasis on promoting agriculture within South Ronaldsay.
They felt they had little support from the Orkney Agricultural Society who had not followed up their own recommendations. The men wanted to hold their own show and a committee was duly elected.
The first members of the newly-formed South Ronaldsay Auxiliary Agricultural Society were:
James Cromarty of Gossigar Alex Durran of Herston
Robert Thomson of Hoxa William Tomsion of Dundas House
James Johnstone of Claybrae Mr Cromarty of the Hope
James Banks of Smiddybanks Sam Louttit of Carra
John Sutherland of Knockhall Mr Allan of Burwick
In the minutes of this first meeting it was agreed that it was desirable, in order to give an impetus to agriculture, and improve the breed of cattle, to have a cattle show and give premiums in the island during the present year; the funds to be raised by subscription in the island and elsewhere.
Prizes were to be offered for cattle, sheep and horses as well as for crops of bere, oats, turnips and potatoes and for reclamation of hill.
The first horse and cattle show was held in the Hope on 12 November 1845 at Market Green, an area at the top of Church Road.
In 1933, there were 110 entries for the horse category. As tractors took over the work of the horse the numbers reduced.
Later, the show moved to the farm of Sandwick. It then rotated between the two sites until a semi-permanent venue was rented from James MacDonald of the Hope. MacDonald’s Park was the home for the show for more than 100 years.
Today the show is held at Farewell.
To begin with only a few farmers were able to compete but gradually more livestock entries came forward. Farmers enjoyed showing and seeing better animals through importation of better bulls and through better feeding, which came about as a result of better ploughing and cropping.
The shows were followed by ploughing and hoeing matches. The ploughing match was started in 1870. A good ploughman was a joy to watch and was an important test of skill. Experienced workers could apply their expertise to achieve good crops and improve profitability. This also gave younger men the encouragement to improve their own skills.
The first ploughing match was held in 1870 at the farm of Knockhall and attracted 17 competitors. Matches were held around the end of January. As well as the furrows the harness and grooming was also judged.
It was a matter of time before the tractor and modern machinery put an end to the event. Working horses became scarcer and the last ploughing match was held in 1957 when 11 ploughmen took part.
The first ploughing match using a tractor took place in January 1948 with 17 competitors taking part. The final match took place in 1970 when there were only six entries.
As the years progressed other forms of entertainment were introduced to the Hope Show.
In 1924 the poultry section began. The increase in poultry numbers in the 1950s and 60s saw a large increase in the numbers that were showed.
To enhance the show the Pet Parade was introduced in 1961, the gymknhana in 1970 and the dog show in 1978.