On the 11th August I was over in Southern Ireland judging their biggest one day show at Tullamore. It was two years ago that I judged the vegetable classes there for the first time and as it is primarily an Agricultural show, it was cancelled last year because of the foot and mouth epidemic. There was undoubtedly an improvement to the show in the quality of the exhibits as well as the number of entries in each class.
The good thing about being a judge is the fact that you are able to handle other growers products after all the hard work that they put into growing and staging them. The down side I suppose is the constant travelling to different shows covering all parts of the Country – and beyond as well. On the 11th August I was over in Southern Ireland judging their biggest one day show at Tullamore. It never ceases to amaze me how much show organisers can achieve in one day with a loyal team of volunteers that are prepared to bust a gut in order to get their show on the road.
It was two years ago that I judged the vegetable classes there for the first time and as it is primarily an Agricultural show, it was cancelled last year because of the foot and mouth epidemic. There was undoubtedly an improvement to the show in the quality of the exhibits as well as the number of entries in each class. Every class was well entered in, there were 15 dishes of peas with 12 peas in each dish, 10 marrows, 12 dishes of 3 beetroot as well as 13 dishes of 5 rhubarb. My work was therefore really cut out and I just managed to complete it all before the public burst through.
The horticultural side of the show is catered for by Tom Maher 9 who has now managed to secure four ‘All Ireland Finals’ within the schedule. The Bridge House All Ireland Championship for a collection of 5 kinds of vegetables had 9 entries and all were of a good standard.
The winning collection went to Harold Lawlor from Durrow Co. Laois with Leeks Mammoth, carrot New Red Intermediate, Tomato Cedrico, Cauliflower Freemont, and potato Shannon.
Shannon is a new potato that I was really impressed with, it has the colour of Maxine but seems to be more oval in shape with shallow eyes and a lovely skin condition. At the moment I am uncertain if this one is to be stocked in Britain but it is available from the Irish Potato Board in Dublin. Another new variety with some show potential is Malin, a lovely pink eyed oval variety that is very similar to Shula. Being in Ireland of course potatoes would have to take prominence and though I never judged the potato classes, there were a large number of entries in each one.
The judging of potatoes is different in Ireland to the way we do it here, I dread to think what would happen here if a judge started to cut in half one potato from each dish, he or she would probably be banned from judging for life! They do however have a reason for this cutting as they are checking the potatoes dry matter content. The judge will cut a potato in half and then rub both halves together for half a minute or so before checking whether or not they have frothed up. If the potato froths up a lot it would be too wet, the driest potato would hardly have any froth at all on it. The Dry Matter Content (DMC) would be awarded points under internal condition which is out of a total of twenty.
The class for a dish of 6 first early potatoes was won by David Curran from Moyglass Fethard Co. Tipperary with a lovely clean dish of Winston. I have met David on a few occasions now and always comes over to Wales to have a go at some of the Welsh shows.
The class for carrots was worded ‘Best 3 Carrots” this of course meant that the stump, short intermediate and long were all up against each other. The winner however was David Moloney from Clonmel Co. Tipperary with a very large well grown dish of 3 New Red Intermediate.
Sydney McKnight from Barnbridge Co. Down won the class for a pair of parsnips with the variety Gladiator, there were nine good entries in this class which made it worth winning.
The problem with exhibiting and Judging vegetables is the fact that you only have a very small window to do it all in. From mid July through to the third week in September I shall be lucky to be home a single weekend but I must confess that I do really love it. Tomorrow morning I shall be judging the special carrot class at Harrogate where the schedule asks for three long and three other than long carrots. I judged this class two years ago and if the standard is still the same, I shall have my work cut out.
From Harrogate on Friday I shall gradually make my way over to Newent in Gloucestershire where I shall be judging the Newent Onion Fayre on Saturday morning. This is undoubtedly an unique show with classes specifically for the Allium family; this year there has been some additions to the schedule with Blanch leeks being introduced for the first time. The prize money is excellent and I believe that some of the bigger growers are hoping to have an entry this year. A word of warning however, the local growers are good, in fact they are very good, so don’t think for one minute that it’s going to be a walkover. If you feel like having a go give Mike Davies a ring on 01531 822 750, he will tell you what’s in the schedule and take your entry over the phone.