Carloway Show has earned its place as a landmark event, not just in the Carloway area, but throughout Lewis. There are many island exiles who ensure that their summer holiday includes the first Wednesday in August – the date that has since 1954 been Show Day. Since these early days, there have been many changes in the Show format, but its main essence has always been its friendliness and, to a degree, its predictability. You know that you are going to meet up with people you haven’t seen since the last Show, you know you are going to see impressive displays of vegetables, flowers, crafts, baking, livestock, you know that, almost certainly, it’s going to be nice weather!
Locally, the Show is the “Cattle Show”, indicating the importance of that element in the early shows. For two or more decades, that may not have been an appropriate name, but recent years have seen a big increase in cattle rearing and exhibiting, adding to the interest in the livestock section. Sheep are no longer just Blackfaces – they come in all shapes and sizes – and if your interest is in horses, or dogs, or chickens or ducks, you will not be disappointed.
Heavy events have always been an attraction, with the Show being one of the few opportunities to see traditional Highland Games events such as shot putt, weight over bar, throwing the hammer and cabar tossing. The younger ones who are not burly enough yet can participate in sports such as long-jump and mile race, and can have great fun in the tug o’ war contests.
Flowers, fruit, vegetables, cakes, scones, eggs, jumpers, crochet, embroidery, Harris Tweed … the list of exhibits is as impressive as their quality, and if you are lucky enough to accumulate top points, you will be rewarded with handsome trophies at the end of the day.
Music and dance have their place. Piping competitions attract a number of young players, and Highland Dancing has proved a very popular attraction in recent years.
There are a number of Shows now in Lewis and Harris, but Carloway can boast an uninterrupted run of 53 shows to date, and it can also claim to be the only Show that is open to exhibitors from throughout Lewis and Harris. In its 50th Jubilee year (from 1954), a well-produced full-colour magazine was published, outlining the Show’s history from its early roots in 1911 to its celebrations in 2003. Amongst many other iteresting items and photographs, it lists all those who have been given the ultimate honour – an invitation to open the Carloway Show. The Jubilee Book is still available. If you would like a copy or if you wish any further information about the Show, get in touch via the Contact page.
Don’t miss the next Show – remember, the first Wednesday in August!