Eastrington Show: 130-year-old event's colourful history includes musical chairs with cars and Victorian debauchery

Cars balancing on seesaws, marauding Vikings, refused liquor licences, top cattle, motorcycle races, a bizarre motorised version of musical chairs and a hotly contested bake-off have helped make the name of one of the smaller shows in the summer season that celebrates 130 years since its inception in June.

Eastrington Show was first held in 1892 when it was known as Eastrington Annual Athletics Sports. A foal show was added within a few years with livestock classes added around the end of the century. It remains a village agricultural show and those who organise it intend it to stay that way..

Long-time committee member, past show secretary and now produce manager Julie Falkingham said she recalls ‘a kind of musical chairs with cars’ in the 1970s.

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“Cars would be driven around the ring and drivers would then get out, run and grab somebody when the music stopped. I don’t remember it all, but I don’t think the health and safety people would allow it today.”

Eastrington Show near Howden has been going for 130 years

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Julie of Lodge Farm, Bellasize said that the show, which has taken place on the third Saturday in June for many years has retained its traditional charm.

“We are proud of Eastrington Show as a village and agricultural show and have an excellent show of cattle thanks to Pam White and her family. We have a number of classes and usually attract around 30 cattle on the day. Pam always puts on her famous picnic for all of those showing and judging.

“Pam’s husband Andrew was always involved and his father Johnson White was president of the show in 1979.

“While we no longer have sheep classes, we do have Rachel from The Purple Pig Company who brings her mobile farm that includes pigs and sheep; and this year we also have Ings Park Alpacas from North Cave for the first time.”

Debbie Vollans is the current show chair and tells of the other four-legged classes. “The York & Ainsty South Pony Club run the showjumping competitions and we have a dog show, terrier show and a show for where any dog brought along on the day can enter a show just for fun.

“We’ve also vintage tractors coming this year.”

Julie said it will be an interesting mix of the old and new agricultural machines as the local agricultural machinery dealers will also be there with their brand new tractors.

“We always invite the local dealers to come as they provide another real interest to children and adults. We don’t charge them for doing so as they are providing their own spectacle for our visitors.”

Julie said the show has always been lively and in its early days Eastrington Sports was recorded as being perhaps even a little too lively.

“We have one report in the 19th century when Howden Magistrates refused to grant an application to sell liquor at the forthcoming show ‘because of the bad character of the village’ but I think we are over all that now 130 years on.

“We have some great characters involved and no more so than people like my uncle Albert Atkinson, whose family run Atkinson’s Action Horses. My family has been involved as long as I can remember.

“Uncle Albert is still on the show committee at 95 years old, he still comes on show day and helps knock the posts in and he’s always there on the Sunday to clear up. My brother Stephen Wilburn is the show president.”

Lorraine Cooling, who farms with her husband at Greenoak just down the road from the show, is show treasurer and said that while Eastrington Show has a very small committee there are those who play a really big part in getting the show on each year.

“We’re always happy for others to join us and Howden YFC have two members on the committee now. It’s good to get new, young blood involved.

“But we couldn’t run the show at present without Sam Benson and Andrew Farmery who come and set it all up. Sam is showfield manager and has followed in the footsteps of his grandad and dad who were both committee members. Eastrington Show is in his blood.

“We also have a brilliant show secretary, Emma Gamble.”

Eastrington Show was held in local farmer George Lilley’s field until the 1920s and the Lilley family who continue to live in the village retain an involvement today. Mr R.E. Lilley was show president in 1974, his grandson Peter still helps and although the show moved to the playing fields, the Lilley’s field is still used for car parking.

Debbie said today’s Eastrington Show retains the show’s traditions while moving it forward.

“Everyone loves our version of a ‘Bake-Off’ that Julie now runs. Local farmers the Wraith family give a £50 prize for the best Fatless Sponge Cake. It is now a highly prized rosette!”