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Association History

This brief sketch draws on the fascinating booklet, Stithians Agricultural Association - The First 160 Years, published in 1994 by Jack R. Williams, who sadly did not live to see the Show enter the second millennium. Jack R, as he was affectionately known, was associated with the Show over many years. Indeed, he and his wife Mary were honoured by Stithians Agricultural Association, on the occasion of its 150th anniversary in 1984, for “35 years of service” and “a job well done”.

The precise origin of Stithians Show is shrouded in uncertainty. To quote from Jack’s book:

Little is known of the earlier years of our Association but it has been generally understood that it began as a challenge between local parishioners over the standards and quality of their produce and that the earliest shows took place on what was then known as ‘Churchtown’ - the land on which the School (built in 1859) and Village Hall (formerly Church Hall) built much later now stand.

Here we can only assume that the competitions became popular enough for this Association to be formed and be grateful for the solid foundations on which succeeding generations have constructed such a healthy organisation.

Jack goes on to quote from the local newspaper The West Briton of 27th July 1838 where the “Stithians Annual Show Fair” is reported in terms that would not be entirely out of place in 1999.

"This fair was held in the Churchtown on 16th inst, when the day being fair, great numbers of respectable farmers and butchers from neighbouring parishes and towns attended and a great many bargains were effected at good prices. The fair was abundantly supplied with cattle of the best quality and breed, better than we ever witnessed at any former exhibition. There was great competition in horses and especially in colts many of which would have done honour to the first exhibition in the kingdom.

Association Minute Books are available from 1875 but give little insight into the Show’s development. What is certain is that the Show grew in importance over the years, pausing only from 1916 to 1918 and 1940 to 1944 for two World Wars. Today it is by far the largest one-day Show in Cornwall-a status and importance disproportionate to the small size of Stithians Village itself-and is thought by many to be superior to the larger, three-day Royal Cornwall Show at Wadebridge.

The show has always been held on Feast Monday, the day following the nearest Sunday to 13th July each year - the Feast Day of St. Stythians Church. Up until 1992, the Show was sited on fields around the heart of the village. However, following indications by the Glebe that the Show Site rental would be increased by over 300%, the Association was fortunate enough to purchase 65 acres of Kennal Farm and to establish the present site."

More recent milestones:

Soon after moving to the new site a large storage “shed” was constructed with this including the main toilet facility. Portable toilet units were acquired and refurbished and served the Association well until 2015. Various offices (mainly in converted shipping containers) are housed on the site for use only at Show time.

Some years ago Association was able to acquire an additional area of land taking the whole to some 77 acres.

With a permanent site it has been possible to add further roadways, either with tarmac or compacted surfaces and these have proven invaluable in managing traffic and effective stewardship of the exhibition areas in the face of a wet lead up to the Show. The main horse ring is permanently fenced.

As from 1 July 2011 the Show has been operated by Stithians Agricultural Association Limited which is a Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England, Number 7585178. The Company has taken over the assets and liabilities of the old unincorporated Association and has been registered as a Charity by the Charity Commission, Number 1141715.

In 2016, after many hours of meetings and consultation of advisers, the Association made a major investment in replacement Portakabin units for the old toilets which had completed their useful life. This investment exceeded £130,000 but is expected to last some 40 years.