Notes from the 2001 Town and Country Festival

by Dr June McNicholas

The Town & Country Show is a daunting task to take on. Bigger than the Royal Show or the CLA, it involves three 12-14 hour days; literally tens of thousands of people attending each day and a constant deluge of questions and comments. Add the heat and oppressiveness of late August weather and you can see it's not a task for the faint-hearted! But has the NFWS ever shirked its duty? Never!

As usual at such shows, Sheila Crompton was the mainstay, arriving with all her ferrets and camping on site for five days. The rest of the crew were assembled from members and their families around the Warwickshire area. Even some non-members pitched in and gave their time in the cause of ferret promotion. Just as well, as it could have been a logistic nightmare co-ordinating teams of four people for each three-hour shift. There were four shifts a day so we needed a goodly number of cheerful souls, happy to put up with the whole range of comments from the public for long periods at a time, and not to crack under the strain of the 1000th mention of Richard Whitely; smells, trousers and the like.

So a roll-call of appreciation to all who helped and a sincere wish they will soon be released from the funny farm. Thanks to Fran, Jeff and June who all served the full sentence! John Barton, the new Worcestershire area co-ordinator, with his valuable humour and easy way with the public; Emma and John Childs who are not even members but would do anything to help ferrets; Eric Shadforth with his wry humour and his elegant wife, Liz, who still managed to look cool, poised and groomed after a marathon day when the rest of lus ooked like something you'd find in the litter corner!

Stephanie New and Dumpling - 17k

Then a special mention to young Stephanie New, a junior member who worked all three days, probably longer and harder than any of us, although it did take its toll (see pictures of Stephanie with Dumpling!) A bit was fun was had on the final day when most of the crew went to visit an armoured car called a ferret and had photos taken (who says ferrets aren't dangerous?!)

Stephanie and Dumpling - 11k
And we musn't forget a tribute to Sheila for taking on the show. Most people would just not bother. After all why travel hundreds of miles and spend several days camping in a field with a few dozen ferrets when there's no monetary reward? It takes a bit of dedication to do that just for the satisfaction that some people have gone away with a new, better image of ferrets.

Finally, a huge tribute to the ferrets themselves. Not a single grump amongst those 'on duty'. These were former rescue ferrets who had achieved the elite position of trust and could be handled by anyone, anytime, anywhere. The pleasure they gave to visitors and their contribution to enhancing the image of ferrets eclipsed any of the work we humans did!

More Photographs from the T & C

Stephanie in the turret of a Ferret with Seven - 14k

Stephanie New in the turret of a Ferret with Seven.

Spooky - 5k Piper - 10k

Left:- Spooky enjoys her Sainsbury's Garlic Sausage.

Right:- It's a hard life being a ferret, Piper relaxs in Jeff's arms.

Final Day - 21k

"The Final Day"
June with Jeff with two very weary ferrets. Tiberius (polecat) and Piper (silver).

The kits on a ferret - 41k

Left and below:-
The kits on a ferret; Left to right, Liz with Neelix, Sheila with Tuvok, Stephanie with Seven and Jeff with Chakotay

The kits on a ferret - 35k
Camp site at the Town & Country - 38k

The camp site at the Town & Country Festival... the "off-duty" ferrets slept in the gazebo during the day as the frame tent just got too hot for them. The normal green and white striped sides of the gazebo were replaced with white sheets to reflect the sun and keep the interior cool.

Articles, stories etc. from NFWS Newsletters