FIRMS from Scotland's Highlands and Islands will be in the spotlight at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh this June, as the annual celebration of rural life returns in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

This year’s show is the 200th anniversary of the first show which took place in the Canongate, now part of the grounds of the Scottish Parliament. Since moving to its permanent home at Ingliston in 1960, each region in Scotland takes its turn to be host and 2022 will see the Highlands and Islands using the opportunity to showcase its innovation and resilience over the last two centuries, as well as highlighting the best of its produce.

Honorary President Ewan Macdonald explained: “We’re immensely proud to have the chance to be host region in this very special year for the Royal Highland Show. And we’re using the chance to demonstrate how we have survived and thrived for centuries in this part of the world, by using our natural resources.

"With the theme 'Scotland’s Natural Capital – Highlands and Islands', a specially created exhibition will focus on tourism and culture, food and drink, as well as renewable energy and tackling climate change. The various zones will tell the story of a region which has always used its natural resources to innovate, from the first commercial hydro scheme in the country at Loch Ness, to the groundbreaking marine energy centre at Stromness. And it’s an area whose stunning scenery, amazing wildlife and fascinating history and culture attract visitors from around the world.”

More than 70 businesses and organisations from the region will take part in the show, from established players such as Johnston’s of Elgin and Walkers, to younger start-up companies such as Box’d, the makers of Orkney Marshmallows who emerged during the pandemic, and Blacksmith James Ritchie from Muir of Ord.

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.

A large section of the popular Food Hall, Scotland’s Larder has been given over to Highlands and Islands food producers. There will also be a focus on the region in the Home and Gift Hall with a number of craftspeople and artists selling their wares.

For Isle20 and Highland Hiddle – both set up during the pandemic to provide an online presence for artists and craftspeople – this will be the first opportunity to attend the Royal Highland Show. And together with Exclusively Highlands they are providing a showcase for the smaller exhibitors.

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.

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It will be a fantastic opportunity for Highlands and Islands exhibitors to reach up to 200,000 visitors who will attend the show over the four days from Thursday June 23 to Sunday June 26.

As Ewan highlighted: “Many of these small producers could never consider attending the show on their own, but through grants we’ve been able to make it more affordable so they can test the water. And we’re delighted to have such a spread of talent from across our whole region. This is our chance to show the rest of the country the fantastic place we call home. It’s always been a place where we turn our challenges into opportunities.

“If any food producers are interested in attending the show there may still be a few small spaces left so just get in touch.”

As well as the smaller producers, the Presidential Initiative will be promoting the work of some more established players in the Highlands and Islands Region such as Walkers, Johnston’s of Elgin, Benromach, Glen Moray and ANTA.

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.