Young farmers frolic on stage for top title

STARS OF THE SOUTH: The Southern Young Farmers in colourful rehearsals at the Gaiety for this weekend's annual concerts

STARS OF THE SOUTH: The Southern Young Farmers in colourful rehearsals at the Gaiety for this weekend's annual concerts

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THE 40th Young Farmers’ Concert will take place this weekend at the Gaiety Theatre and promises even better than ever.

This year’s event is extra special as it is in memory of much loved Eastern Young Farmer Dovad Kermeen, who died aged 25 eight years ago of a long-term blood disorder.

The three-night show, which includes family fun, political satire and butch farmers dolled up in fishnets, sold out within three days of the tickets being released.

The 2011 event began last night (Thursday) and all acts will be repeated tonight and tomorrow when the winners will be selected and crowned.

The annual Young Farmers’ Concert began in 1971 in Baldrine Methodist Hall. Now, too popular for small country venues, the concert is now held over three nights on the Gaiety stage and is judged by different judges on each night. The score is then added up and the results announced on the last night.

Prizes are awarded within in each club as well as for the overall winning club of the competition. Each performance must last between 30 to 40 minutes to avoid time penalties and all performers must be under 36.

This year’s judges are Matt Fletcher of Energy FM and Gary Chatel of Dream Star Productions, Angie Aire and Olga Gray of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Mr and Mrs Findlay-Macleod of Isle of Man Creameries, the Chief Minister and Chris Mitchell of sponsors Isle of Man Bank.

Angela Teare, secretary of the Isle of Man Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, said: ‘It’s a family show and we hope people take the jokes in the spirit they are intended. There is music, singing, dancing and humour.

‘And the men can’t wait to get their tights and lipsticks on! I’ve already seen two very fetching specimens in the Central Young Farmers to watch out for.’

She added: ‘Lots of the jokes are about the government, the state of agriculture, the TT. It’s a truly Manx evening of satire.

‘It’s going to be so amazing. It always is. It involves over 200 performers aged 10 to 36. Last year was brilliant and we expect this year to be even better.’

There will be no tombola this year but programmes will be offered in return for a donation for the Noble’s Hospital children’s ward and the Pre-school Assessment Centre in Pulrose - charities chosen by Dovad’s family.

There will also be a retiring bucket collection for Prostate Cancer UK.

The competition is extremely fierce. To date the Central Young Farmers and the Northern Young Farmers have each won 13 times, while Southern have seven feathers in their cap and Eastern have five.

Last year’s winners, Southern, have won every year since 2004. But this was after many years of only having two wins to their name.

‘You have no idea how competitive it gets,’ said Angela.

‘They all practise so hard. The time they invest in their shows is incredible. And when the results are read out, the screams are deafening.’

Isle of Man Newspapers’ farming correspondent, Harvey Briggs, must be the only person who has attended every single year since 1971.

However, at the age of 90, this year’s four-hour final night will be the first he will miss.

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