Mackie's opens its doors for Countryside Live
A major on farm event to promote farming and the countryside to the general public is to be held in Aberdeenshire by the Royal Northern Agricultural Society (RNAS).
Taking place on Sunday, May 31 and Monday, June 1, the Royal Northern Countryside Live – A Family Day Out will be hosted at Westertown, Rothienorman by dairy farmers and ice-cream manufacturer Mackies of Scotland.
An open day for the public is planned for the Sunday, while schools from across the north-east will visit on the Monday at a day organised by the Royal Northern Countryside Initiative.
RNAS president Keith Walker said: “The Society has organised similar events in previous years at Dunecht Estate and Uppermill, Kintore, which proved highly successful and attracted a large attendance from the non-farming public who were really interested in how their food is produced and the role played by farmers, foresters and land managers as custodians of the countryside.
“This year's event in particularly timely at a time when it has never been more important to get the right message across about farming and food production in the face of uninformed propaganda and mistruths being pedalled by a minority in the national media.
“The majority of the general public appreciate that food in this country is produced to the highest standards and that it is in the interests of farmers themselves to look after the countryside and take in to account the new challenges of climate change and reducing carbon footprint.”
Chair of the organising committee, RNAS board member Louise Mutch is particularly pleased that all sectors of the farming industry in the north-east have pledged support for the society's initiative which will offer families an enjoyable and informative day out.
She said: “We are very grateful to Mackie's for kindly agreeding to host this important event.
“Our aim is to attract families from towns throughout the north-east and further afield as well as the city of Aberdeen and surrounding areas.”
Cost of entry will be £10 for adults with children going for free.
Features of the event will include a tractor and trailer guided farm tour including the iconic turbines, milking of the dairy herd and ice-cream and chocolate production sites, livestock, sheep dressing, sheepdog trials, machinery displays, a tour of the arboretum, renewable energy displays, stockjudging, farmers market, butchery and cookery demostrations, competitions, a mock auction with the starts of The Mart, trade stands, play area and a whole host of other events, displays and compeptitons on the day.
Host farmers along with Lely UK and Scottish Natural Heritage have been confirmed as main sponsors, and all proceeds from the event after meeting costs will be distributed to three charities – Muscular Dystrophy UK, Charlie House and Maggie's Aberdeen.
Ms Mutch continued: “The aim of the innovative event is to promote farming, food production and the countryside to the wider public and play our part in developing a better understanding of the ways of the countryside and the provenance behind the quality food produced on Scotland's farms.”
Westertown Farm, home of Mackie's iconic ice-cream and chocolate brands, as well as a large herd of dairy cattle and extensive arable farming enterprise run by Richard Stephen on a contract basis provides an ideal venue for the event.
The mounting of such an ambitious event will require considerable funding and the Society is continuing to seek sponsorship from interested organisations and commercial companies to ensure its success.