The Present Day
Why Celebrate a Harvest Home in the 21st Century?
Encouragingly, many Chew Stoke villagers – those of longstanding and relative newcomers alike, all members of one continually evolving community - do continue to celebrate the Harvest Home, and as determinedly in some cases as if they had been responsible for starting it!
Given that the Harvest Home nowadays also competes with so many other attractions and entertainments in people’s lives and given the dwindling nature of farming in the Valley, it still manages to be the one event of the year that retains its unique capacity to bring nearly everyone in the village together. Why is this? Why do people continue to get involved?
“If we stopped running it now, there’d be a riot!”
Carey Wyatt (Hon. Horse Show Secretary) has been helping with the Horse Show since 1995:
"There are not many family shows around any more and for many people this is the first show they ever do. Year after year we see many of the same faces and of course, as people get older, we are seeing three generations of the same family at the Show."
"People come from the local areas, but also from far and wide. We regularly have families from Wales, Swindon and Gloucester coming to Chew Stoke Show every year ....”
"We thoroughly enjoy seeing people enjoy themselves and are please to be a part of it. Organising the (Horse) Show is very hard work, it is also fantastic fun, a chance for family and friends to get together and work hard, but have great fun."
"The one thing that we cannot organise or plan is the atmosphere of the show. This is down to the people helping on the day and of course the people who come to compete and have fun. Every year I have comments from people that - 'We would never miss Chew Stoke (Horse) Show, the atmosphere is brilliant and so friendly'."
"I would invite people to come and take a look and see the atmosphere of a true old fashioned family show, dispelling the 'Horsey People' ideas. We are all here to have fun."
Dorothy Thompson (Hon. Flower Show Secretary) is enthusiastic about her role:
“All of us in the Flower tent are very interested in it. I love it, I absolutely adore it! I see people I don’t see every day. I love it when people come round with their things, we have a chat. I like the atmosphere, everyone meets and comes to have a look at the things and thinks ‘Ooo, my stuff is better than that!’. I keep the aisles wide (so people can chat).
We’re one of the few (villages) left that still do it. We’re not putting on the ‘Bath and West’ ... but we can’t just have Mrs (Bloggs) from down the road (judging entries). We have qualified Judges and the entrants always want to know who the Judges are.
Some of the entrants are a bit quirky, you need patience and you have to be able to deal with cowpats! I’ve learnt a lot as I’ve gone along!
Its been revamped as a family event and I like it for it. It doesn’t matter what people say – they always go.”
A young family who go each year had this to say:
“It’s a nice buzz. We go every year and have a good natter with everybody. We know a lot of people there. We help out some years with the childrens’ races. It’s a fun day out for the family, the kids have a run around, have a go at the games, the adults chat with friends. Of course the village has changed a lot (in the years we’ve been here), there are a lot of couples with children, the dynamics are changing.”
“Families grow up through it and your role evolves over the years. We started off on car park duties , everyone does, then moved on to Sports for 20 years, while the children were small. Sports are the simplest events to organise but the most popular with the children.
Now our children have grown and (another family) with younger children took over running the Sports. And now we do the bottle stall!” -Cynthia and Andrew Troup
“As soon as my husband could walk he’d be up there! Then when he was 6, he was made a ‘runner’. He would take the Horse Show results over to the (main) results tent. Then he was Harvest Home Secretary for years and (after that) even when he was away working abroad he wanted to know all the news from the Harvest Home!”
But, in the words of one Dad, it seems you can’t beat the good ‘old fashioned’ attractions:
“The tea tent’s good – chocolate cake and a good cup of tea. And if you get that bit right ...”
A former Committee member sums it up:
“This is a longstanding event which has as much relevance for people today as it did all those years ago when it was first held. It is as effective today in bringing villagers together as it has been over so many years and therefore it is worthwhile working for its continuance in an age where there are so many other activities and interests that a mobile population can pursue.
In fact, its hard to call to mind any other village based activity which spans all ages, backgrounds, occupations and interests.
Was the focus of the Harvest Home celebration ever entirely agricultural, or was it more about celebration and association? Nowadays people can have fun anywhere, but its still ‘association as a community’ that is important.
If so, the reason for holding the Harvest Home may have changed, but the value of it still exists.
I and others believe it is a tradition worth preserving.”
Dorothy Thompson (Hon. Flower Show Secretary) :
“The best time is 11am when we close the flower show tent and it's completely silent. The stewards and the judges are writing everything down, there’s the wonderful smell of everything and .. silence ..
... Then at 2pm everyone rushes in, and we go for a couple of sandwiches!”
A Former Committee member:
“(The real question is) how much less of a community would Chew Stoke be if there wasn’t an annual Harvest Home? The village would be worse off.”
The wife of a former Chairman, expressed it perfectly:
“People were willing to help out because they didn’t want the Harvest Home to stop. I think if we stopped running it now, there’d be a riot!”
Nigel Game, Former Chair:
“Traditions are essential even in our busy modern-day lives. We must embrace the old whilst developing the new. The Harvest Home promotes a good community spirit as it is organised by the community, for the community. Villagers and those from the immediate surroundings come together annually to socialise and celebrate a good harvest, in the Heart of the Chew Valley. What can be better than local competition, amusement, sport, entertainment, and social interaction on a beautiful September's day? Join us this year - you'll love it. Long may The 'Whoame Harras' continue...”