Big names line-up for Smithfield Festival

Roderick Runciman
Roderick Runciman

Well known faces from the sheep and cattle showing world take on the prestigious duty of judging at this year’s East of England Smithfield Festival on 26 and 27 November.

“We are delighted to announce that James Alexander, from Co Antrim, will be judging the commercial cattle,” says newly appointed East of England Showground agricultural development manager, William Haire.

James Alexander judging at Countryside Live

James Alexander judging at Countryside Live

“And Roderick Runciman from Galashiels will take on the task of judging the sheep,” he notes. Both judges are highly respected and have competed at the highest level with their own stock, winning most of the notable championships in their respective fields.

James Alexander is a well-known cattle breeder, having secured many championships with his ‘Jalex’ herd. He was the breeder of the 2014 Smithfield Champion. James Alexander and his father Nelson created the “Jalex” brand at their holding on the outskirts of Belfast and have won the championships at every major show in Northern Ireland. “You only get asked to judge Smithfield once,” says Mr Alexander. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the quality of the stock brought forward, it’s always a good show and I’m honoured to have the challenge of judging there.”

Roderick Runciman is a highly respected Texel and Suffolk breeder, best known for his award winning Allanshaws North Country Cheviot flock. Well known on the showing circuit, he has won at the Royal Highland Show every year from 2010 to 2014 with his North Country Cheviots, taking the overall interbreed championships in 2014.

“It’s a great honour to be asked to judge at the Festival. Smithfield is one of the best known and oldest names on the showing circuit,” says Mr Runciman. “I will be looking for a good matching pair, that has everything the modern butcher wants, and definitely with more meat than waste.”

The Smithfield Festival facilities for livestock exhibitors have been significantly upgraded with a complete refurbishment of the livestock buildings.

“The new facilities here at the East of England Showground will make for a fabulous showcase of the best of British livestock coming to Smithfield,” says Mr Haire.

“We are pleased to announce for 2015 our new partnership with Melton Mowbray market, whom we are delighted to welcome as the 2015 main sponsors and official auctioneers.”

“The team here at Melton are really positive about working with the Smithfield Festival,” explains Simon Allam, partner at Melton Mowbray Market. “Tim Webster, our head cattle auctioneer has been selling and judging in the region for over 30 years and Tom Greenow, our head sheep auctioneer, joined us from Worcester last year and already has a strong following.

“Our own business is going through an exciting period, with a new state of the art cattle shed due to be delivered next year. This has parallels with the development of the Smithfield Festival, which is going from strength to strength in its new format at the East of England Showground.

“Livestock exhibitors are already selecting stock and making preparations for Smithfield, and we are anticipating a very competitive event in November,” Mr Allam adds.