As a child living in leafy Warwickshire, a highlight of the school summer term was always The Royal Show, a livestock show that attracted the most beautiful cattle and horses from all over the UK, a plethora of rural craftsmen, and displays of equine and other country skills.
Oh yes, and the Royal Family.
Sadly, after 160 shows, The Royal Show is no more. A sign of the times, I guess, that the English no longer find it profitable to celebrate rural life, and the Royals are too busy pretending not to be royal to have time to swan around in open carriages and watch their nearest and dearest win the show jumping (again). I'm sad especially that the children from the nearby cities have lost such a grand opportunity to learn about what goes on beyond the suburbs. And that local people have lost a valuable source of seasonal work.
Sunday : To Traffiume, and Cannobio's fourth annual livestock fair. We saw piebald horses and and fed the Thelwell ponies. We saw some lovely cows and fell in love with a herd of beautiful black-faced Suffolks. We made the acquaintance of the tallest and most regal mule ever, and the tiniest of goats, no bigger than a Carmine cat, but smelling just as strong as its full-size cousins.
We tasted local cheese, local wine, local salami and, from the ladies of the Valle Cannobina in their traditional heavy pleated skirts and shawls, some delicious slivers of traditional torta.
Blokes in big boots stood around in knots, growling impenetrable dialect at each other. The women ditto, some minus the big boots. The children threaded their way through the crowds from one fold to another with hands full of the greenery most likely to give their chosen recipient-animal colic. The mayor, various members of the comunal giunta, and local vets ditto. All minus the greenery.
And of course, no autumn celebration in Piemonte is complete without the volunteers of the Croce Rossa building a big fire and roasting large quantities of chestnuts, and the chaps from the local band oom-paahing away somewhere nearby.
It was a great day out for children and adults alike, and I for one hope that it grows and attracts more breeders and particularly more local producers and artisans year on year.
And who needs the blue-bloods anyway?