Hoovered Heifers – It’s Showtime in Truro!

Despite it’s size, Truro is actually a city and the capital of Cornwall. But you would hardly call it a pulsating metropolis especially on one particular day every December.  on that day the city’s main square is filled with all the sights, sounds and smells of your average farmyard.  When I arrived at the annual Cornwall’s Primestock show on Lemon Quay preparations for judging were in full swing.


You would, I expect, be a little surprised how much effort is taken by the farmers to make their cattle look beautiful.  I saw heifers and steers being blow-dried, hoovered (yes vacuumed), sprayed with hair-lacquer and generally groomed to the maximum.  Curly coats were glowing with gloss, tails back-combed into pompoms and hoofs shining with oil.  This event is a big deal for Cornwall’s farming community and it shows.


The Truro Primestock Show has a long history, the first was held in December 1902.  In the past it was a much larger and more auspicious event, drawing large crowds from across the county and beyond.  This is the show in which the countryside really does come to the town for the day.

Wonderful picture taken on Lemon Quay outside the doors of HFC c1902

For 83 years the show was held inside the Truro City Hall, now the Hall For Cornwall theatre, just beside Lemon Quay which at the time really was still a quay.  The tradition continued unchanged until 1985 when safety regulations and the proposed development of the City Hall finally meant that the show’s society was forced to search for a new site.  The show was moved to a new location on the outskirts of the city.

The Red Lion Hotel where the Annual Show Day dinner and dance was held.

However in 2002 there was new interest in bringing the show back to where it belonged and so that year, the year that the event celebrated its centenary, it returned to the city centre once more.

With its return to the heart of Truro the show also saw a revival in its entrants.  Today apart from the traditional agricultural entries you can also see classes in sewing, photography, cake making, preserves, vegetables, honey, eggs, flowers and much more.

Personally as a farmer’s daughter, raised around gentle South Devon cattle, I go to see these beasts at their buffed-up and coiffured best but agricultural shows like this one have an important role to play.  Perhaps the Primestock show most especially.  It has a little of a circus-come-to-town feel about it but does it help to bring a little of a fasting changing and slowly vanishing life to the shoppers who pass by on their way to Primark.

So many people living in our county have little or no connection to the farmers and the rural life that surrounds them, these traditional shows can in some ways help to redress that.

For more family farming tales try: My Grumpy Grandpa & his Shires or Our Cornish Honey Harvest

More stories and pictures of shows can be found here



I provide all the content on this blog completely FREE, there's no subscription fee. If however you enjoy my work and would like to contribute something towards helping me keep researching Cornwall's amazing history and then sharing it with you then you can DONATE BELOW. Thank you!

Leave a Reply