Lumberjacks, scrumpy and western take centre stage at show

July 27, 2017

RURAL MELODIES: Mucker Mike with his silage-rich voice, Compost John and Bumpkin Bill beckon for audience participation for the New Forest Yokels. Behind them is Lady Muck Spreader on the drums.


LABOUR INTENSIVE: Steve of Dorset Axemen, a group that keeps old-style lumberjack skills alive, uses a single-user cross-saw to cut a log. This method was used a lot prior to the invention of the chain saw.

FOOD TENT: Here is the entrance to the main food hall at the New Forest Show. All the food businesses were all under this one roof but no other tents – as far as I’m aware – for used to sell local food and drink. The other ones across the show site were selling direct to the public in a fast-food capacity.

HARVESTING HISTORY: Eight people are operating this old-style baling machine at the New Forest’s farming history section. A fan on You Tube makes this observation on the technique: “They would have the crew you see feeding and operating and tying bales, and then if you weren’t close to the stack then they would likely have another wagon with another crew hauling away the bale.”




THIS year’s New Forest Show was my fifth visit to the event in five years.

So instead of taking a notebook and pen and interviewing stallholders and officials, I took the backseat of a normal visitor and without the guide, I put one foot in front of another and proceeded to see where they would take me.

I’m A Lumberjack and I’m OK

The New Forest Axemen have performed at the show since 1966 and an assorted crew of burly participants showed their brawn using the old skills of cross saw and axe. These were used in abundance prior to the use of the chain saw.

Reg Adams was the pioneer who turned his forestry skills and those of others into a sport and on his debut that year, they gave a display along side Australian axemen and they were soundly beaten.

Many might remember Monty Python’s rendition of I’m A Lumberjack but having seen them in action, anyone considering sending this lot up would quickly change their tune.

‘This was the old way on real-working farm’

An old-style threshing machine to bundle straw also caught the attention of many visitors and a team of eight people were assigned different roles on the machinery to ensure the bales came out nearly, any excess straw being picked up by a hoe.

On a clip of a model in action on You Tube, a contributor made this observation about the old-style baling machine.

“On a real working farm doing it like this the old way on the vid, they would have the crew you see feeding and operating and tying bales, and then if you weren’t close to the stack then they would likely have another wagon with another crew hauling away the bales and perhaps another crew at the stack stacking.”

Mucker Mike and his silage-rich voice

The New Forest Yokels, the national park’s answer to the Worzels, are regulars to the show and are not far from the countryside area. They were previously called the New Forest Plonkers until 2012 and according to their website, they were originally musicians doing “Scrumpy and Western”.

With bandnames such as Mucker Mike, Bumpkin Bill, Crafty Clive, Rustic Rex, Compost John, Lord Hayrick and Lady Muckspreader, there is no doubt to their authenticity as Hampshire’s top agricultural band. Mucker Mike on lead vocals is described as having a “silage-rich” voice.

A simple list of songs include the Worzels’ signature tune Combine Harvester; Cider Drinker, Drink up Ye Cider, Don’t Tell I and for the very young, a special rendition of Nelly The Elephant and tambourines were on hand for audience participation.

Anyone who follows the country show circuit, may be interested that they will be at this year’s Dorchester Show on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September.

Pies, hand-made fudge and toffee vodka

Most of the Food Retailers were on the Food Hall and had been put all under one roof with other food businesses having to be fast-food retailers for the day. It was a shame that they couldn’t have found another tent for local food businesses. Amongst the stalls I encountered included hand-made fudge; grass-reared beef and lamb; toffee vodka; traditional cheese, home-made pies and hand-made fudge.

The countryside arena was active with a gamekeeper giving a practical demonstration with his gun dog about what he does, without any live animals of course, instead using cardboard cut outs. The police dog van was nearby to prevent any misdemeanours.

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