The founding of the Society is well documented. In March 1755 a group of sixteen men mostly county landowners met at the Golden Lion Hotel in Lion Street, now the site of Bethel Square. The objective of the meeting was to form a hunting club, in the event they decided on a different endeavour. Mr Charles Powell of Castell Madoc, Lower Chapel had been in correspondence with the Gentlemen’s Magazine which was followed by discussions with Col Williams of Gwernyfed and Pendry Williams of Penpont. The meeting resolved that it would form a group to “do something to support and encourage Agriculture, Manufacture and promote the general good of the County of Brecon”. This having been agreed they met again in April and formally established the Brecknockshire Agricultural Society.
The annual show held on Watton fields is the visible public activity of the Society. The Society was founded in 1755 and has continued without a break until the present day and is in fact the oldest surviving agricultural society in the UK. In 2020 the society celebrated its 265th Anniversary.
The Brecon County Show is held annually on the 1st Saturday in August at The Showground, Watton Villa, Brecon. In 2019 there were 400 horse entries, 100 cattle entries and over 400 sheep entries. The show also hosts a major shearing competition, a poultry show, classes for goats, a novelty and exemption dog show and a dog agility competition and competitions for horticulture and domestic and handicraft. The Show attracts over 10,000 people to the show and with over 200 trade stands and main ring attractions there is plenty of entertainment on offer for them.
The Society is a limited company and charity and it is run entirely by volunteers with the exception of a part time Society Administer. A general committee of no more than 40 members oversees the activities of the Society including the Show. A Chairman and Vice Chairman are elected for a two year term of office and a Show President/Presidents are elected for each year. On show day there are over 200 volunteers helping to the run the event.
In addition to the Show the Society runs other charitable fundraising events such as race nights and the very popular Presidents Evening.
Although the Society is long established, it does not want to be seen as living in the past and is a forward thinking organisation that supports the local economy and agri-food sectors. The Show has kept to its traditional agricultural roots by focusing on livestock, crops, poultry, goats and horses for its mainstay of competitions, but has added various other shows, competitions and attractions to welcome people from all walks of life to the show and provide a great family day out.
Secretary Mr Peter James Brecknockshire Agricultural Society HBF Depot Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Llanfaes, Brecon Powys LD3 8LA