Lochaber pulls out the stops to celebrate 200 years of the Royal Highland Show

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Final preparations are under way in Lochaber as the Highlands and Islands region prepares to take centre stage at the Royal Highland Show 200th anniversary celebrations.

Great Glen Charcuterie and the Sunart Soap Company from Lochaber are part of the team showcasing the best of the Highlands and Islands.

The region plays a vital part in its history, for the Inverness Show in 1948 was the first to be attended by reigning monarch King George VI who took the opportunity to grant the show its Royal title.

The Highlands hosted the show on 14 occasions before it settled in its permanent home at Ingliston in Edinburgh. But the tradition of the touring show remains and it’s the turn of the Highlands and Islands region to host the show in this special year.

Businesses and organisations across the vast region – from Unst to Lochaber, Elgin to Stornoway – are planning a spectacular showcase of all that is best about the Highlands and Islands.

As President Ewan Macdonald explained: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support we’ve had from right across the region. Everyone is delighted to have the chance to go to Edinburgh and show people the very best of the Highlands and Islands.

“Under the banner Highlands and Islands – Scotland’s Natural Capital we’re celebrating our use of natural resources – from wave and tidal energy developments in Orkney to pumped storage hydro in the Great Glen. We’ll have a working Harris Tweed loom, Vikings from Shetland and a fully immersive experience showcasing the spectacular scenery of the Highlands and Islands.”

The annual celebration of rural life in Scotland is returning in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic and is expected to welcome 200,000 visitors over the four days starting on Thursday 23rd June.

The Presidential Initiative Marquee will tell the story of the Highlands and Islands Region and its innovation in three areas – tackling climate change, food and drink and tourism.

There will be a major presence from the region in the Food Hall from established players like Walkers to new entrants such as Box’d – the makers of Orkney Marshmallows.

And in the Home and Gift Hall there will be artisan producers and craftspeople from all parts of our vast Highlands and Islands Region.

Highland Hiddle and Isle 20 – set up during the pandemic to provide an on line presence for artists and craftspeople – will be going to the Royal Highland Show for the first time, selling products from smaller producers in the islands and highlands. And they will be joined by Exclusively Highlands who moved their craft fairs to outdoor venues to meet the challenge of covid restrictions.

The Food for Thought sessions in the Food For Thought Theatre will feature chefs and food entrepreneurs from the region such as Ghillie Basan and the Lynbreck Crofters from the Cairngorms, the Budge Sisters from Shetland, Lady Claire MacDonald from Skye and Bad Girl Bakery and Highland Food Trail duo Jeni Iannetta and Douglas Hardie from Ross-shire.

The Presidential Initiative team is particularly pleased that is has encouraged representation from every part of the region which covers Shetland, Orkney, Western Isles, Highland and Moray. All the counties of the Highlands are also featuring from Caithness to Lochaber.

The companies, organisations and individuals taking part from each region are:

Orkney: Orkney Deerness Distillery, Highland Park, Orkney Bakery, Orkney Cheese, Orkney Creamery, Orkney Dairy, Orkney Distilling, Orkney Gin Co, The Island Smokery, Stockan’s Oatcakes, BOX’d and Zoe Davidson as well as the European Marine Energy Centre and Destination Orkney.

Shetland: Shetland Reel, Shetland Deli, Island Larder, Nort Finest, Shetland Lamb. “Shetland Makers” – Glansin Glass, The Silly Sheep Fibre Company, Nielanell knitwear and Yala Jewellery Shetland. Vikings from Uphellya will be part of the Shetland presence as will the Shetland Food Truck. The Budge Sisters from Bigton Farm will feature In Conversation in the Food for Thought Theatre.

Eilean Siar: Harris Tweed Authority, Isle of Barra Gin and Charles Macleod’s Stornoway Black Pudding and Tiree-based Isle20 who emerged during the pandemic as an online shop window for island businesses.

Moray: Macbeth butchers, Walkers, Baxters, Benromach, Gordon & MacPhail, Avva Gin, Glen Moray, Johnston’s of Elgin, Morayshire artist Carolyn Milne and author Ghillie Basan.

Caithness: Dunnet Bay Distillery – makers of Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass Vodka, Caithness Candle Company and Shore Seaweed

Sutherland: Wooden Stag in Lairg

Ross-shire: Black Isle based Exclusively Highland, featuring James Ritchie, Soap & Mhor, Sward Designs, Handmade by Ingrid, Peat Design, HRM Ceramics, Ceomara Jewellery and Kevin O’Neill, Bad Girl Bakery duo Jeni Iannetta and Douglas Hardie, Bogrow Farm, Graham Rooney from Platform 1864.

Badenoch and Strathspey: Cairngorm National Park Authority, Ghillie Basan and the Lynbreck Crofters

Inverness and Nairn: Rose Cottage Kitchen, Jack Spowart, Gold Moss and Kirsten Hel.

Skye and Lochalsh: Chocolates of Glenshiel are amongst the exhibitors, as well as Skyeskins and Saffron Jewellery and Greg Dobson Metalwork, both from Kyle of Lochalsh, thanks to Kyle based Highland Hiddle. Lady Claire Macdonald will be taking part in the Food for Thought Theatre.

Lochaber: Great Glen Charcuterie and the Sunart Soap Company