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Dumfries and Galloway goes on display to the world thanks to the Royal Highland Showcase

Daily Record logo Daily Record 15/06/2021 Sharon Liptrott

An armchair showcase of Dumfries and Galloway’s farming, food, drink, culture and tourism is under way at the Royal Highland Showcase.

The event, in partnership with Royal Bank of Scotland, replaces the annual Royal Highland Show at the Ingliston Showground near Edinburgh, and while the public are not allowed in, all the daily action will be live streamed for free until Sunday to a worldwide audience.

Usually the role of host rotates between the country’s eight regions and while Dumfries and Galloway missed out because of last year’s Covid-forced cancellation, it is leading the way with a second chance this week.

And the region’s farming community and more are determined to promote the best of Dumfries and Galloway – led by the show society’s honorary president, Fiona Armstrong.

She said: “We want to let people know that we are an important, forward-looking hub for rural business and agriculture. For example, we’re not only the heartland of Scotland’s milk production and renowned for the exceptional quality of our beef but are leading the way in livestock genetics and research into making our cows ‘greener’ while improving yields.

“It’s tremendous that we have this opportunity to showcase our farming, food, drink, culture and tourism at a moment when we all hope that recovery is on the horizon. It will be a real boost for the region and the whole of Scotland.

“I have been overwhelmed by the dedication of so many people who are working to make the event a success under incredibly difficult circumstances”.

Her vice presidents for the initiative all have business and farming experience in the region and include Alasdair Houston, Alistair Marshall, Hugh Ramsay and Percy Weatherall.

a person holding a kite while standing in front of a building: Nurses Cara Saunderson and Gabija Bugaite with the colourful Beltie at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary that is ready for a selfie. © Jim McEwan Nurses Cara Saunderson and Gabija Bugaite with the colourful Beltie at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary that is ready for a selfie.

They are supported by RHASS regional directors Ian Beck, Matthew Currie, James Dunlop, Jim Hastings, Heather Wildman and Liz Vance, with John Mackie and Lorraine Mair, whilst Alex Cairns is the chaplain.

The slogan for the show is Dumfries and Galloway – Let’s Grow Together which reflects the region’s ambition to build on its many strengths and showing the interdependence of its different sectors.

Many of the region’s farmers are among the 1,100 entries for cattle, sheep and goat competitions. And residents are among the almost 2,000 equestrian entries.

Dumfries and Galloway also has a number of experts in their field who will be judging some of the livestock competitions. In the sheep pens alone the judges include Lochmaben’s Susan Bryden (Ryeland), Lockerbie’s Richie Strawhorn (North County Cheviots), Dumfries’ Colin Rae (Zwartbles) and Langholm’s Jim Robertson (Non M-accredited sheep interbreed and pairs championship).

And the 105 championship winners will be awarded beautiful engraved glass bowls created by a Dumfries family business, Galloway Glass, owned by T B Watson.

More local businesses, the Men’s Shed movement and Young Farmers in the region are also taking part, along with the Dumfries Veterans Garden who have built a special garden at the showground.

A 12-foot tall wicker Belted Galloway bull is also going to make an impact, along with specially-commissioned videos and other online activity to showcase the region all week at www.royalhighlandshowcase.org.

Meanwhile, across the region 12 multi-coloured life size cut outs of cows – each with a different theme – are inviting locals and visitors to pose beside them for “A Selfie With A Beltie”.

In Dumfriesshire, there is a rainbow Beltie cut-out at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary Hospital in recognition of the work by NHS staff during the pandemic and the one at Gretna Green is covered in hearts.

Moffat has been chosen as another destination and the theme is hills and walking, while the Armstrong Tartan is being “worn” by one in Langholm.

A camouflage Beltie will be at Ingliston during the showcase as part of the Veterans Garden initiative which involves former military personnel from Dumfries and Galloway creating a colourful flower garden and a portable display at the showground. After the event it will go to the Veterans Garden in Dumfries, which has a children’s play area.

The Belties were created and distributed by Alba Printers of Dumfries, with design input from Art and Design NC students at Dumfries and Galloway College including Eva Taylor and David Ball.

College principal Joanna Campbell said: “This fun project will help promote our brilliant region and has also provided our talented artists and photographers with some valuable experience and real-world practical training.”

Elsewhere in the region there are Beltie cut-outs in Parton, Castle Douglas (Kayaks theme); Twynholm (chocolate); Kirkcudbright (scallop shells); Gatehouse (ice creams); Kirroughtree, Newton Stewart (mountain bikes); Wigtown (books); and Stranraer (Galloway tartan).

Fiona said: “We can’t bring the public to the showground, so we are taking Dumfries and Galloway to the world – and there’s no better-loved symbol of the region than our Belties.

“These 12 colourful cut-outs will put the focus on some of the brilliant things our region offers including chocolate and ice cream from our dairy herds, scallops from the sea, mountain biking and kayaking in the hills and lochs – right the way through to romance at Gretna and the bookshops of Wigtown.

“As Covid restrictions ease we hope people will enjoy posting pictures of themselves with our Belties, travelling around to snap the whole herd.”

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